Background to the meaning and reason of ANZAC Day - In 1914, as WW1 started, Australia was only thirteen years old as a newly created federation. In 1915, the capture of the Gallipoli Peninusula was undertaken by many allied nations, including Australia and New Zealand. The Turish nation, allied with Germany, fought to stop the attack and therefore stopping the opening of the Dardanelles to the navies of the allied forces, which included France and Britain, to name two.
The allied attack at Gallipoli on 25 April, had strong resistance from the Turkish soldiers defending their country. The fighting became a stalemate and lasted for eight months. The allies withdrew after both sides endured heavy loss of life and many wounded casualties. 8,709 Australian soldiers died at Gallipoli and this had a great effect on Australians back home. The 25 April went on to become the day that Australia honoured those Australians who had served and died in war and military conflicts - Over 100,000 Australians have died in war - 60,000 died in WW1 (In WW1, Australia's population was only 5 million).
The Gallipoli campaign was a military failure, but the Australian and New Zealand soldiers' (ANZACS) courage and determination created the ANZAC Legend and is why ANZAC Day is so important to the people of Australia and New Zealand to this very day.
Interesting ANZAC Day Facts
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Some interesting facts and information regarding the Gallipoli Campaign - Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) led the Turkish troops to victory. Gallipoli made him a hero in Turkey and at the end of WW1 he became the founder and leader of the modern Turkish nation with the title Ataturk, the Father of Turkey - The number of allies that died were 21,225 British, 9,798 French, 8,709 Australians, 2,701 New Zealanders, 1,358 Indians and 49 from Newfoundand. Turkish deaths were 86,692 - An Australian AE2 submarine, commanded by Lieutenant Henry Stoker, was sunk by a Turkish torpedo boat in the Gallipoli Campaign - In Turky, The Gallipoli Campaign is commorated as The Battle of Canakkale - The number of Victoria Cross medals awarded to Australians at Gallipoli is 7. The Victoria Cross is the highest form of recognition that can be awarded to a soldier for remarkable courage. In total (for all wars and conflicts) 100 Australians have received the Victoria Cross (VCs by conflict: Boer War 6, WW1 64, North Russia 2, WW2 20, Vietnam 4, Afghanistan 4) - Corporal Baird, 32, is the 100th Australian to be awarded the VC - he died as he assaulted an insurgent-held compound during a special forces mission in the Khod Valley in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province on June 22, 2013. John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a British subject who later came to Australia. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1914 and served at Gallipoli in 1915. Private Simpson served in the 3rd Field Ambulance (Australian Army Medical Corps). He was at the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April and was killed in action on 19 May. His bravery and unselfish attitude to danger in assisting in the rescue of wounded soldiers with his donkey, epitomises the ANZAC ideal and spirit in Australia - Surviving Australian soldiers at Gallipoli ended up on The Western Front in Europe, fighting the Germans in deadly trench warfare.
One of the most popular songs written in 1915 was Australia Will Be There. It soon became the march song of the Australian Expeditionary Forces and used to rally soldiers as they marched away from home. In WW2, the song Along the Road to Gundagai (written by Jack O'Hagan in 1922) was very popular with Australian Diggers. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda is a song written by Eric Bogle in 1971. Often termed as an anti war song, it presents war as futile and gruesome and critical of those that glorify war. It was popular in the 70s as an anti war song. The song included the melody and some words of Waltzing Matilda at the end. During that time many people believed ANZAC Day was in decline as WW1 and WW2 veterans numbers marching each year became less and less. Also, many Australians had protested against the Vietnam War and conscription and the last Australian soldiers left Vietnam in December 1972 (Australia's Saigon Embassy Guard Platoon left June 1973). I Was Only Nineteen by Redgum in 1983, was written by John Schumann, based on what he heard from Vietnam veterans. The song covers a regular soldier's experience in the Vietnam War and returning home psychologically damaged.
Why is the Last Post important at ANZAC Day services? - The Last Post is a long held military tradition, where the bugle call heralds the end of the day's activities. The Last Post is played at military funerals and war commemorative services, such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, as a final farewell, and such, symbolises the duty of the dead is over and they can rest in peace.
Like many other things in our world, the ANZAC story needed a defined focus to represent the ANZAC Legend and Simpson and his donkey was that focus. The choosing of Simpson and his donkey is an interesting subject for anyone interested in marketing. The caring and selfless Simpson and his donkey was seen as a much better example to present to the public and school children than someone like Albert Jacka who won a VC at Gallipoli and went onto being awarded the Military Cross on the Western Front. People like Jacka, courageous soldiers in battle, have been sidelined from the image of the ANZAC Legend in Australia because they fought and killed. Simpson killed no-one and therefore presented an ideal image, especially to school children. Everything is marketed, including wars - for example, the good guys being us and the bad guys being our enemy. Marketing a war, especially to present to the general public is very basic stuff - the enemy is identified as evil and they murder. This gives a country a free go at bombing an enemy back to the stone age if necessary. Take a look at the recent Libyan war where the United States, Canadian and European war planes kill from 9 kilometres high and videos are shown to the general public of the bomb travelling toward the target and exploding. What most people put out of their minds is all those Libyan soldiers (including civilians) on the ground being incinerated and blown to pieces by the war planes are human beings like us, with mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, brothers and sisters. The presentation of Weapons of Mass Destruction that brought about the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was all marketing, none of it was true.
There was no marketing or 'fight to save the empire' slogans needed when the Japanese attacked Australia during WW2. We were in the fight of our lives and we were very fortunate to have John Curtin as Prime Minister at that time to lead our country. He is regarded by many as one of our country's greatest Prime Ministers. Over 30,000 people were at the cemetery when he died in 1945, with many more Australians lining the streets. Speaking of John Curtin, General MacArthur said "the preservation of Australia from invasion will be his immemorial monument".
Australians fought heroically to defend Australia in Darwin and places like the Kokoda Track. Our country had its back to the wall during this time, fighting against a very formidable enemy. When it comes to courage, mateship and sacrifice, you will not find any better example than the Australians who gave their all to save Australia and their loved ones on our mainland. If one is looking for the true character of the Australian spirit, it would be at the graves of Australians who died to our North during WW2. "To stand on my homeland, surrounded by our war dead, who fought heroically to defend Australia and their loved ones down the track, was a profound experience and initiated the creation of the song." - Peter Barnes
Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary 2014 - 2018 - The Australian Government has formed the National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary. The Anzac Centenary includes the 100th anniversary of the first Gallipoli landing, 25 April 2015, and other significant events that occured from 1914 up to the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018, including a century of war service, peacekeeping and defence.
Tours to Gallipoli are very popular as Australians want to see the place where the ANZAC Legend was first formed in Turkey. The 2015, 100th Anniversary commemoration service will see an escalation of tours to Gallipoli.
Australia sees itself as a great sporting nation and the ANZAC Day match between the AFL clubs Collingwood and Essendon is played every year at the MCG. This modern day tradition brings record crowds of Australians to see the two clubs play on the day and is only beaten in crowd numbers by the AFL finals. In keeping with the sentiment of the day, the ANZAC Medal is given to the player on the day who best exemplifies the Anzac Spirit. Rugby League Football has the:ANZAC Test and Club ANZAC Game. The ANZAC Test is played between the Australian and New Zealand national teams. The National Rugby League (NRL) has a match between St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters each year to commemorate Anzac Day.
'Can You Hear Australai's Heroes Marching' - ideal song for schools for the ANZAC Centenary 2014 - 2018. The official website for the song is here.
Please Note: All content on this website (including the YouTube video) remains the property of the respective copyright holders. The song may not be used for any commercial purposes whatsoever. Peter Barnes holds copyright for 'Can you hear Australia's heroes marching?'. Any commercial use of the song without the author's consent will be in violation of copyright. The mp3 and music download for the Australian war heroes song can be used for commemorative and personal use only. Disclaimer: Information on this website comes from sources that can be considered to be reliable, however, we take no responsibility and will not be held liable for any errors in the information on this website. For instance, battle and/or war casualty numbers can vary from different sources.
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