Anzac Day Memorial

For the Australians and Newzealanders who have lost loved ones in Wars throughout history a Dedication 

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They shall not grow old,
As we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.


Lest We Forget

 

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The Tradition begins

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Since 1915, one day in the year has involved the whole of Australia in solemn ceremonies of remembrance, gratitude and national pride. That day is Anzac Day - 25 April.
Why does a nation pause to remember this day? It is because that day, 25 April, 1915, was the day when Australia as a nation faced the supreme test of quality and courage, the landing on the beach at Gallipoli of Australian and New Zealand soldiers.



When World War 1 began on 4 August, 1914, Australia's Prime Minister, Joseph Cook, made an offer of 20 000 soldiers and ten weeks later, the first contingent of volunteers was on ships bound for Egypt. It was in Egypt that the acronym "ANZAC" was first used as a simple code. As they sailed, a strategy was being formulated to capture the outlet from the Black Sea in order to relieve the pressure on Russian soldiers in the Caucasian and influence Bulgaria to join the Allies.

So the Gallipoli campaign was formulated. On a dark Sunday morning, 25 April, 1915, the soldiers landed in the dark and under heavy fire, climbed steep cliffs covered in prickly scrub and won a foothold on the plateau and ridges. The next eight months saw many feats of courage and bravery on both sides. Apart from the heavy casualties from attack and counter attack, the lines were so close that there was no respite from the heavy bombing, shells and mines.

The Beach at Anzac, Oil Painting by
Frank Crozier 1919


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Simpson and his Donkey
Of the many examples of sheer courage, the most remembered must be that of "Simpson and his Donkey". Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick learned all about donkeys on the sands of South Shields as a lad. During his twenty-four days of donkey trips, Simpson single handedly rescued around three hundred wounded soldiers by bringing them down Monash Valley on the backs of donkeys.

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On the morning of 19 May, 42 000 Turkish soldiers launched an all-out attack against the 17 356 strong Anzac line, in attempt to drive the invaders back into the sea. The Turks were caught out in the open and lost
3 000 men with 10 000 wounded in repeated attacks over open ground. The Anzacs lost only 168 men. Jack had just collected a casualty and was coming back down Monash Valley when he was hit and killed by a machine gun bullet in the back. He was buried amongst great gloom by the soldiers who had much admired his bravery, and his grave was marked with a simple wooden cross.



Although Simpson was recommended for the Victoria Cross officially on 3 June, 1915, it was denied on a technicality. In July, 1967, the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Chief of General Staff and other leaders, sent a petition to the British War Office on behalf of the Australian people requesting that a posthumous Victoria Cross be awarded to Private Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick. However this was also denied on the grounds that it would be creating a dangerous precedent.

Finally on 20 December, 1915, the pressures of other areas of the War, led to the evacuation of the survivors of Gallipoli, an event accomplished without further casualties. 7 600 Australians and nearly 2 500 New Zealanders were mortally wounded at Gallipoli and 24 000 more were wounded. Fewer than 100 were taken prisoner. However, it was not so much that Gallipoli with all its hardships, heriocs and suffering was any worse than the other wars that Australians have since taken part in, it was that this was the first real test of our country as a nation. And we did not fail!!!

"Anzac stood and still stands for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat. It has become synonymous with the determination and spirit of our armed forces."

So every year on April 25, we have a day of remembrance where we can express our gratitude to all those men and women then and since, who helped keep our country free from invasion; to acknowledge our debt to these men and women, their wives and husbands, mothers and children and our obligation to those who gave their lives to protect our way of life.

We must look to values of Anzacs

When Francis Walter Isaacs died at the age of 102 this month, Western Australia lost its last Gallipoli veteran.  But the legend that he and his fellow Anzacs forged on that distant shore long ago lives on in the hearts and minds of Australians as the embodiment of the values to which we should aspire.  In life the Gallipoli veterans have been venerated as national treasures.   In death they are honoured as the men who helped to give a young nation its unique identity.  Time has failed to diminish the legend.  Indeed, Anzac Day has continued to grow in significance as an occasion when Australians publicly affirm their pride in the nationhood that the Anzacs helped to define.  It and Australia Day are now the most important national days on the Australian calendar.  Past criticism of Anzac Day that it somehow glorified war has faded.  This is partly because it was wrongly based in the first place.  But it is mainly because the spirit of what we celebrate and honour on Anzac Day has engaged the community with the message that it conveys about our values..  It is no longer a mainly military occasion and not only a time for families and comrades to remember those who have fallen in wars , although this is an important part of the ceremonies.  Certainly  Anzac Day commemorates those who died in wars and honours Australians who fought in them.  Wars are brutal expressions of the dark side of humanity.  But the Anzacs showed-and other Australians in other wars inherited their spirit- that men and women who find themselves in wars can reach a nobility through sacrifice.  Their actions have forged for the Anzacs a tradition of honour, valour, mateship, sacrifice and duty above self that has been adopted as embodying the key values in the Australian national character..  And it is these values that we celebrate on Anzac Day.  As we do so, we should reflect on the deeds of the Anzacs and those who followed in their tradition-on their refusal to accept defeat in the face adversity their commitment to their fellows and their spirit of self-sacrifice.  It is a time to ask whether we-individually and as a nation-have honoured their contributions to the nation by respecting their values.  They fought-and many died-for freedom, decency and a fair go.  It is from them-as much as from anywhere else-that we draw an egalitarian ideal that is distinctly Australian.   Would the men who gave their lives for these principles on the other side of the world feel let down by what Australia has become? Are we a nation of which they would be proud?  Australia at the end of the century is a much different place from the one they knew.  The growth of population and industry has been necessary for the nation to prosper-as has been the move to become and outward-looking country whose economy can compete in international marketplaces.  Change of that type is inevitable but Anzac Day gives us an opportunity to question whether we have changed in other ways as our society has evolved over the century.  And the most important question we can ask ourselves is whether we are true to the values by which the Anzacs lived and died-and which they bequeathed to us as a legacy of honour.

[From The West Australian Newspaper Perth Saturday April 24 1999]

 

 

It goes without saying that Australian Forces through out many wars and conflicts have followed these traditions and although one should not glorify war as such one must be prepared to stand by and live up to these principles and traditions otherwise is not their sacrifice in vain.  One would hope not, to the contrary one would hope that is continues to set a precedent for future generations of the nations youth. Not in the making of war but in the association of the principles and traditions set forth of self sacrifice by the Anzacs.  [S.C.Mackenzie]

We must never forget them

The pictorial content of this site and some of the text is taken from a series of early history books called The Australian Pictorial History unfortunately the publisher is currently unknown. If anyone has information in that regard please contact the webmaster.

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