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Anzac Day : 100th anniversary : 25 April 2015

April 25, 2015

ww100 logoWhy do we mark Anzac Day?  Why is it so important to Australian’s and New Zealander’s?

25 April 1915 was the date when ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops first landed at Anzac Cove during the Turkey Campaign of World War I.  It was a baptism of blood for these troops, fresh from training.  The campaign was a disaster but unfortunately dragged on for 260 days until December 1915, when defeat was accepted and the allied forces secretly retreated.

There were many nations affected by the Gallipoli campaign :

  • 14,000 New Zealanders participated. Of these,  2,779 New Zealanders died and 4,852 were wounded.
  • Australia suffered 26,000 casualties, including 8,709 dead.
  • 33,072 British Empire forces died, and 120,000 were wounded.
  • About 10,000 French forces died, and 27,000 were wounded.
  • In defending itself from invasion, Turkey lost 87,000 lives out of an estimated 250,000 casualties.

25 April is a date that has reverberated down through history, because this event was essentially when we discovered our Nationhood. Previous to this, as a colony of the British Empire, New Zealanders didn’t really consider themselves as distinct or particularly separate from those “at Home” (England).  The Gallipoli campaign showcased colonial attitudes and attributes that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation. Kiwis, whether of European or Maori ancestry, became proud of their distinct identity, and the mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today.  New Zealand also has a favourable relationship with Turkey, born out of the respect between opposing forces.

In my opinion, Gallipoli (and following campaigns) encouraged our soldiers and nurses to change their attitude about the British Empire, and they found the courage and fortitude to cope with the War, in serving not for the freedom of the British Empire but for their own countries.  This attitude gradually permeated civilians at home too.

Anzac Day is when we remember those who fought and died, out of respect for their sacrifice (not just in World War I but all wars), and it also commemorates the real birth of our Nations.

We shall remember them.

anzac poem

Interested in learning more about the war or your relatives who fought?  Useful sites:

Ancestry genealogical database is available at each of our libraries, on our free Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa computers.

New Zealand History online here

Tararua Kete – List of names on local memorial cenotaphs

NZ Memorials Register  here

Auckland museum online cenotaph here  Lay a virtual poppy

Commonwealth War Graves commission here

New Zealand WW100 homepage

And of course we have many books in our collection (see non-fiction shelves 940.3 through 940.4)

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