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ANZAC DAY ADDRESS

This morning on Kingston Beach I was present with


many others at the Dawn Service. It was a cool Autumn
morning with the atmospheric presence of several boats
just offshore crewed by young Sea Scouts simulating the
boats which brought the Anzacs to the beach at Anzac
Cove as we gathered, just as thousands at this Cenotaph
and other places around Tasmania have gathered, to
remember the landing of the Anzacs on the Gallipoli
Peninsular 100 years ago. That landing was, however, a
far different scene from what we experienced this
morning.
It had rained the previous night and, as the troops
disembarked into their landing craft and headed towards
the beach ahead at Anzac Cove, the air was rent with the
thunder of naval guns directed at the shore where the
Turks were waiting, and the noise of small arms and
artillery fire which the latter were directing at the
incoming invaders. The cacophony increased with the
shouts of orders, returning fire and the cries of the
wounded. Eventually the troops reached the shallows,
leaping from their landing craft into the cold water often
chest high, and scrambling to right themselves, get onto
the beach and form up in some sort of order. It was the
start of eight months of hell.
The Gallipoli campaign was strategically flawed. The
British War Cabinet sought to break the deadlock of the
trench warfare on the Western Front by opening a second
front on Germany with a decisive attack on its ally, Turkey.
It calculated that it could use the British Navy, then the
greatest navy in the world, to ram the Dardanelles Strait,
capture Constantinople and take Turkey out of the War. It

was anticipated that this would bring Greece Bulgaria and


Rumania in on the side of the Allies, relieve the pressure
on Russia and expose Germany and its allies to attack
from the British and French through the Balkans. Even had
the campaign succeeded in the capture of Constantinople,
however, there was no guarantee that the Turks would
have been knocked out of the War: they still had
supremacy in the Levant and Palestine, while the Balkan
States were so ethnically and religiously divided that only
an incurable optimist would predict unity of purpose on
their part in opposing the German and Austro-Hungarian
Armies.
It seems to have been assumed by Britains military
and political leaders, from the experience of their imperial
conquests that their troops were an innately superior race
to the Turks and that the latter would not put up much of a
fight. Little did they realize the determination of Johnny
Turk to defend his homeland and his stoicism in the face of
death, hunger and the incredible discomforts that the
combatants on both sides had to endure. These leaders,
unused to the massive destructive power which
industrialised countries could produce in their weaponry,
still used tactics which relied on pluck and esprit de corps
for success, oblivious to the effects of these weapons
which Germany had put in the hands of its Turkish allies.
But perhaps the worst aspect of the conduct of the
campaign was its total lack of secrecy. Five weeks before
the landing on 25th April the British Navy had given the
game away by a bombardment of the Turkish shore
defences conducted on 18th March 1915. Although some of
their guns were destroyed many more were not and the
Turks had time to bring considerable numbers of troops
onto the peninsular and to dig in. When the invasion came
they were well and truly ready.
The Anzacs had been landed over a mile to the North
of their intended position and faced precipitous cliffs. As
the first men moved inland, congestion built up at the tiny
beach now called Anzac Cove which had to cope with all
reinforcements and supplies. Only one battery of field
artillery was landed on the first day and units became

hopelessly intermingled. By mid-morning the Turks had


begun to counter-attack and by evening the Anzacs had
been pushed back to a firing line only 1000 yards inland at
the furthest point.
In the following eight months of intense fighting the
Anzacs experienced heavy casualties and enormous
hardship. From the cold days of their initial Springtime
arrival through the blistering summer, followed by yet
more cold in Autumn and early Winter they had to endure
the screams of their wounded as they lay without hope of
rescue in No Mans Land, the stench of unburied putrifying
corpses of both friend and foe, the infestation of flies, the
prevalence of disease, the lack of hygiene facilities and
the fear of death or mutilation. The terrain was gutwrenching to dig into or to fight over. And, worst of all,
militarily, it was all for nothing. In December 1915 the
order came to evacuate and in a brilliantly organized
retreat the Anzac Corps withdrew without a single fatality,
fooling the enemy with continued fire from unmanned
rifles set up to discharge when sufficient water dripped
into tin cans hung from the trigger mechanism. There had
been but two casualties - one in the early evening of the
last night and another, hit in the arm by a spent bullet as
he left the beach.
Casualties during the campaign were high although
in later stages of the war on the Western Front they were
even worse. The author, Les Carlyon, claims that in the
nine-day period from 25th April to 3rd May they amounted
to about 8500 consisting of Australians, New Zealanders
and some 600 British marines. Of these, 2300 were dead.
For the whole eight months Australian casualties
amounted to more than 26,000.
Why then do we commemorate this disastrous
episode in our national history? One reason is that it was
the first time Australians had participated as a national
force in a major military engagement. Fifteen years earlier
the individual Australian colonies had sent contingents to
fight in South Africa during the Boer War, but this time
they went as members of a national army. As with the rest

of the First AIF they were all volunteers, many of them


having enlisted in the earliest days of the War. They
wanted to do their nation proud, and succeed in that they
undoubtedly did. Their actions at Gallipoli so deeply
touched the Australian psyche that only four months after
their withdrawal the 25th April was named Anzac Day and
commemorated with pride. From Egypt, in a letter dated
24 April 1916 my father, then serving in the 4 th Divisional
Artillery, wrote to his parents saying Tomorrow will be
Anzac Day- the first anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli.
It will be a whole holiday. They are going to hold Aquatic
Sports throughout the 4th Division.
The men who fought at Gallipoli showed courage in
the face of adversity, humour despite appalling conditions
and stoicism at the loss of life, health and bodily integrity
among their comrades. Many showed extraordinary
compassion for their mates. The stretcher bearers are
legendary for this quality but it was commonplace. In 1916
my father served in France in the 110 th Howitzer Battery
with a fellow Tasmanian, Bert Orchard, who had been at
Gallipoli from the landing until the retreat in December. He
had lost a friend in May 1915 to sniper fire and many
times recorded in the diary, which he kept daily, visiting
and tending his friends grave during the following seven
months, yet again attending to his grave before going on
board an auxiliary sweeper for evacuation to Lemnos later
that day. Bert served another 2 years in France and was,
like my father, awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
The Anzacs inspired the many thousands of fellow
Australians who followed them to continue the fight in
France and Belgium in the nearly three years of warfare
which were yet to unfold with crippling losses before the
Armistice of November 1918. They have continued to be
an inspiration to all who served in subsequent wars and
peacekeeping engagements right up to the present time.
While today we put a special focus on the Anzac
landing and the whole Gallipoli campaign, we also
remember with gratitude all the men and women who
elsewhere and later saw service on behalf of their country.
And we remember with sorrow the innocent victims of war

the grieving widows, children and other loved ones and


the civilians who were killed in the collateral damage of
war. Her Excellency the Governor recently reminded us of
the dedicated service of Legacy which continues to look
after the widows and children of deceased members of the
Armed Forces as a practical way of remembering them
and of repaying in part the debt this nation owes them.
The scars of war can be deep, scoring not only the bodies
but also the minds and morale of many of the participants
and it behoves us to acknowledge them and to do what we
can to heal their wounds. Let us always remember that
without the sacrifices and efforts of the men and women
we honour today we would have inherited a far different
quality of life from that which we now enjoy.
Lest we forget.