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Once again Australians are celebrating ANZAC Day. It seems only yesterday I was writing about it here on this blog but another year goes by and yet again, British and Australian soldiers are on Middle Eastern soil together.

21 comments to ANZAC Day

  • I think our emotions on this day are somewhat more complicated than “celebrating”. I was going to write on this, and I still may, but after giving my talk this evening.

    As an additional comment, the French also fought along side us at Gallipoli, bravely and in large numbers.

  • Byron

    That’s a really cool superimposition of pictures, with the old troops and modern ones. Says more than a thousand words on the West’s technological advancement and warfighting skill.

  • Michael: celebrating is a technical term really… Christians ‘celebrate’ Easter… that does not imply cheering and happy faces. Used the way I did it is a synomym for ‘observing’ ANZAC Day

  • SnarkyBitch

    yes, but the french are notable by their absence this time, michael. now here is one of my pet peeves unrelated to this blog or comments… it annoys me when i hear some poorly educated fellow aussies blather on about how the poms did not care about the diggers at galipoli. they usually act like the proverbial stunned mullets when i point out that four times as many brits died in that battle. ANZAC day is when were should remember what unites us.

  • Liberty Belle

    Oh, gosh, I cried at those pictures. Our technology advances, yet we continue to go forward together and our blood ties remain the same. The Anglosphere is the most powerful force in the world, and it has been largely benign. SnarkeyBitch is right, we must remember what unites us; and we should not allow ourselves to be divided by delusional “European” dreams. The Anglosphere is what advances humanity, to the benefit, one hopes, of all on this planet.

  • JohninLondon

    We COMMEMORATE ANZAC Day. A day of remembrance, of reflection, as well as pride.

  • Perry: Yes, that is a perfectly valid use of the word “celebrate”. Possibly my reaction was due to the fact that our feelings concerning the day are themselves very complicated. (The way we celebrate the day reflects this. Traditionally we remember in the morning, and then spend the afternoon drinking and gambling, often to excess. It is in some sense a party, but a party that often resembles a wake). We certainly take pride in what our countrymen did, but the price was terrible. In terms of the percentage of population lost, few countries have ever lost as many young men as Australia did in the first world war. (Although the price paid was terrible, it was paid more in France than in Gallipoli, too. Although a great many Australians were killed there, the number killed in France later in the war was several times greater).

  • Dave C.

    My hat is off to all the brave Aussies and New Zealanders, whoom my father faught alongside with in North Africa in WWII. Where the Vichy French coundn’t figure out whose side they were on.

  • I can understand why New Zealand got left out, but we commemorate ANZAC Day as well. I doubt I’m the only Kiwi noting the sad irony that our respect for servicemen and women seems to exist in direct inverse proportion to their proximity in time and nationality.

  • DirtyNuke

    Btw, after-action analysts say that the Austrailian special forces have taken everyone else to school—with success and results way out of proportion to their numbers. We in the US should appreciate their efforts similarly, but we don’t. As one with relatives in the Military: thanks, mates.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    I salute everyone involved in ANZAC day. Here’s what the poet John Masefield had to say about them, ninety years ago:

    …the finest body of young men ever brought together in modern times. For physical beauty and nobility of bearing they suprassed any men I
    have ever seen; they walked and looked like kings in old poems, and reminded me of a line in Shakespeare: ‘Baited like eagles having lately bathed.’ ….there was no thought of surrender in these marvellous young men; they were the flower of the world’s manhood, and died as they had lived, owning no master on this earth.
    –John Masefield, 1916

  • I would like to honor (honour) the Anzacs who gave so much of themselves during WWII (not to mention after that). I was just a boy then but remember knowing just what Anzac meant, as I cut all those war maps out of the paper. Somehow, in the States, you were a special people. Amen.
    In your honor, Gerry

  • John J. Coupal

    I am a little puzzled about the recent difference between Australia and New Zealand, military wise. Many Yanks think of them as being the same country! Dumb idea, I know, but we’ve got public schools too.

    But, I remember New Zealand forbidding nuclear powered military vessels from docking in any New Zealand port. What was that all about, since Australia seemed to have no such problem? That got a lot of negative press for New Zealand in the US media during the Cold War.

  • There are some quite strong (historical) cultural differences between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand was traditionally a mixture of Scottish and English, whereas Australia was more a mixture of Irish and English (with still a few Scots). I doubt this is much of a factor in their military policies today, but it is a factor in their being different to each other. One important factor may just be that New Zealand is so far away from anywhere else that they don’t face any threats from anywhere. Australia on the other hand has a large, Islamic and very unstable country directly to its north, and is close enough to the other countries of Asia (most notably China, and in the first half of the 20th century Japan) to be aware that it cannot pretend the rest of the world does not exist and hope it will go away.

    (The East Timor mission was quite a big deal for the Australian armed forces. Here was a situation where a military force was clearly needed which was right on our doorstep and nobody else was going to do it. There are going to be other requirements like that one in the next few years, and everybody now knows it).

    I am curious myself as to what the Australian SAS troops have been doing in Iraq, and before that in Afghanistan. Once in a while I hear someone drop a hint suggesting that whatever it is they have been doing, they have been doing it superbly, but the nature of their mission means that we won’t hear the full details for a while, if ever.

  • ohninLondon

    Michael Jennings

    I think the key difference between OZ and NZ is political leadership. John Howard seems to have a clearer concept of Australia’s historic and present role, whereas Softy Helen in NZ is just a throwback to 1960’s student politics, mostly anti-US.

    But in NZ there are many who regret this parting of the ways, who feel that NZ is hiding behind Australia’s defences – and US defences. (likewise Canada – a country which lost more dead proportionately than even the ANZACs in WW1)

    NZ’s policy on banning visits by US nuclear-powered vessels is simply IRRATIONAL. Banning subs with nuclear weapons may be an arguable issue, but banning nuclear-POWERED aircraft carriers is plain dumb, pacifist nonsense.

    I am forever humbled by being the son of an ANZAC private, who survived Gallipoli to fight on in France. The original ANZACs of WW1 will always be remembered with pride and sadness, as will their successors who fought valiantly right through WW2.

    I visit NZ each year to see grandchildren there. A lovely country, good people. I hope before long to see NZ rejoin its natural allies, and start playing its proper part in defence affairs.

  • P. Maher

    Had a very moving ANZAC day dawn ceremony ‘on the beach’ in NZ. Very atsmospheric! Being an Aussie living in NZ I believe that I am privilaged to have a particular perspective on events that crop up from time to time between the Tasman cousins.

    Being very closely involved in the debarcle in NZ in the mid 1980s over all things nuclear. The then Prime Minister Lange did a deal between the left and right wings of his Labour Party administration whereby the ‘left’ got control of Defense and Foreign Affairs whilst the ‘right’ got the economy. Hence the anti-nuclear policy hiding what was and still is a strong anti- US policy Labour Party stance! Actually Lange favoured a ban on weapons but was comfortable with nuclear powered vessels. His then girlfriend had ‘pillowtalk power’ and agreed cabinet policy agreements used to be overturned during ‘love-nest’ weekends much to the chagrin of other ministers. The whole rotten house of cards finally fell to bits when the ‘left’ just couldn’t help itself and started dabbling in the economy. The government fell and ‘right wing’ former Labour party ministers formed their own party. The anti-nuclear policy however remained and was strengthened by left leaning local councils and teacher unions. It is now institutionalised and the current opposition is too afraid to buck the numbers and even mention a possible future roll back in NZ nuclear policy. “Such is life”!

  • John J. Coupal

    Prime Minister Lange and Slick Willy Clinton must be related.

  • Jim Whyte

    Good to hear people are noticing and observing Anzac Day in proper style. Thanks to ohninLondon for your mention of Canada: for us Anzac Day is the day after the anniversary of the chlorine-gas attack at Second Ypres (also 1915). “Likewise Canada” is dead right; I wish we had been in the Mideast to pull our weight.

    8o (gas mask smiley)

  • Hey, u need 2 include hu was in those days.

  • Thanks to an Aussie friend who is a war history buff and world traveller (hi Dave!), we went to meet up with him on Anzac day in France to pay our respects and learn something for ourselves.

    We went to the main Australian WW1 war memorial near Corbie first…. amazing. Very moving for me personally. One private was even 14. He must have lied about his age to join up. There were lot`s of Aussies there, and also quite a few Canadians and British.

    We went to the WW1 battlegound of Beaumont Hamel, where ALL Canadians should go, as it`s where you`ve lost more soldiers (of the Newfoundland Regiment) than anywhere else afaik. It`s a protected area of original WW1 trenches of the Allied and German lines. Very very moving and amazing…. some of the shell holes were huge. The metal rods that held the barbed wire together were still to be seen on both sides.

    We also went to a couple more cemetaries/memorials around Albert, and I even found some WW1 barbed wire and shell casing near the edge of a ploughed field. Plenty of shell fragments too… which are very heavy.

    I would like to thank the French people for looking after all the memorials we saw, and donating the land in most cases. I think they appreciate what was done in their land in a couple of wars, by their soldiers and their allies. Whether they agree with any other war or not is irrelevant to how they feel about Anzacs etc in WW1 and WW2. It`s obvious they love Aussie`s especially as in Albert they have loads of Aussie reminders…. even Kangaroo `rocking horses`. Dave said they`d even
    re-named a street in some town nearby
    `Rue-De-Kanga` .

    I`m an Australian living in England. My Grandad was English and fought in WW2 in North Africa (don`t know if it was the British or Aus army). He got blown up by a German mortar in an attack and his friends left him for dead. The Germans found him still alive somehow (with all but half a pair of his underpants blown off) and nursed him back to semi-health. He spent some time at Colditz as a POW and said Douglas Bader-Powell was an arrogant tosser but he admired his courage.

    Re: Aussies doing well in Iraq….
    I spent some time in the Aus Army reserve, and learnt that you always clean up after yourselves to not give the enemy any info about who/where/how many etc. We`d shit in one deep hole and fill it in, diguise it etc before moving on. Didn`t leave any rubbish around or anything.
    We came across an area once where US Marines had obviously been in on excercise. How did I know they were US Marines? Am I a detective genuis?? No… there were pens lying around with US Marines on them, as well as used silver foil ration packs all over the place with US Marine and what food it was. They ate VERY well btw. I`m still pissed off at how useless they are as soldiers and how they mess up my country with their crap.

    You always see how great Marines are in US movies… but in reality they are actually amongst the worst soldiers in the developed world…. and no amount of hi-tech arms can hide it… hence why the US consistently kill more allies than anyone else (WW2 and Iraq for sure… don`t know about WW1).
    You can`t ever escape friendly fire incidents, as at the end of the day as a soldier it`s generally a split second thing and if you don`t react first and it is an enemy then you`re dead…. but the US have an extremely high rate of friendly fire in situations which they would have time to check things first… like the US air-force blowing up british columns and even their own US Special forces/Kurdish column heading TOWARDS Iraqi lines. In the Marines case maybe a higher proportion of them are just a bit stupid and trigger-happy. I know the Allies in WW2 and Iraq didn`t relish fighting near American lines anyway… and fighter pilots covering B52`s learnt to keep their distance.

    On the other hand, the US Special forces are amongst the best troops in the world. I know the Aussies are held in high regard (special forces or not), but I think the SAS are still regarded as the cream of Special Forces.

    In Vietnam the Aussies actually came out of the war with loads of excellent equipment which the US had left behind. We loaded Huey`s and all sorts onto our ships that had been abandoned when the US pulled out. We also had a much higher `kill ratio` than the US in Vietnam…. but I bet you never even knew Aussies were fighting (and fighting very well) in `Nam. Same as no-one knows in the rest of the world that we fought in Gulf War 1 and 2 (will probably have a trilogy… all good movie`s do).

    On our travels during that day in France, there were so many unknown soldiers of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Wales, Scotland, and Canada, who will never knowingly be visited by their family…. I`d like to send out a big respect to them as well…. `Known Unto God`.

  • Gary Storm

    Beaumont Hamel for all you Canadians, Scottish and Germans: