I don't know how interested you guys are, but this post is a conclusion to my 'Aussie Military History' thread.
The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the biggest military screw-ups of WW1, and led to the death of almost 12,000 ANZAC soldiers and a total of 141,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded. The objective of the campaign was to open up a safe supply route to the Russian front via the Dardenelles; a strip of water leading into the Black Sea. Previous attempts at opening the Dardenelles through Naval power had led to losses of several ships, so it was decided that an invaion of Gallipoli would silence the Turkish mobile artillery and allow minesweepers to clear the strait. The only real result of the Gallipoli Campaign though, was the 'coming of age' of the Australian nation and military.
Terribly poor planning from British military hierarchy resulted in the bombing of Gallipoli over 6 weeks before the majority of infantry forces could land. This gave the Ottomans ample time to dig in their trenches and place ample artillery all over the steep cliffs that rose literally only metres from the beaches. The main ANZAC forces landed at Anzac Cove after sailing from Egypt at approximately 4:30am on the 25th April 1915. British and French forces would land on Beaches S, V, W, X and Y at the same time and advance North. The ANZAC's objective was to advance East across the peninsular to cut off the retreating Ottoman forces. The Turks however had other ideas, and opened up on the Aussies and New Zealanders with entrenched machine guns while they were still in their landing boats. Landing forces on the first day received casualties of 70%.
With trenches in some places placed only metres apart, attempts at overrunning enemy positions with fixed bayonets were popular with Commanders who sat in the Naval ships sitting miles offshore. The stupid thing was, communication was difficult in the trenches, so whistles were used to signal the start of an attack. Enemy combatants were alerted too, and quickly recognised this signalled easy pickings for the machine gunners. So many casualties were inflicted on both sides that field commanders constantly had to organise truces so that each side could bury the dead in no-mans-land.
Attempts were made to break the stalemate constantly up until September, however the Turks always seemed to be able to defend the higher ground at the last second before Allied forces could take it. The lack of progress eventually made an impression on British commanders in the UK and the decision to evacuate was made. Planning of the evacuation of Anzac Cove consisted of getting the Turks used to lulls in firing by going without a shot for hours at a time then opening up on them when they came to investigate. Many troops left the beaches over the following days leaving only a few left to scurry throughout the treches firing rifles left at random intervals. The few remaining Diggers then rigged up self-firing rifles using water dripping into a tin connected to the trigger and left the beach during the night on December 20 1915. Amazingly, no casualties were inflicted on the ANZACs throughout the entire evacuation.
The significance of the Gallipoli Campaign is felt strongly in both New Zealand and Australia. Before Gallipoli the citizens of Australia were confident of the superiority of the British Empire and were proud and eager to offer their service. Gallipoli shook that confidence, and the next three years on the Western Front would damage it further. The ANZACs are revered as heroes, and the popular phrase 'digger' used to describe soldiers at Gallipoli has come to describe all members of the Australian armed forces, particularly members of the Army. Popular Australian history asserts that while the Federation of Australia was born in 1901, the country's true psychological independence was only achieved at Gallipoli.
Anzac Day services are held every year to commemerate the Gallipoli veterans and indeed all servicemen and women who have fought for Australia since. A pilgrimage to Gallipoli is undertaken by many Australians each year where an Anzac Day service is held on the beach at Anzac Cove. I'll be attending a dawn service tomorrow morning before heading to the Returned Serviceman's League Club to buy a Digger a beer.
The Turkish Memorial at Anzac Cove reads:
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours... You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well"
The 'Ode of Rememberance' will be read tomorrow, as it is at many Australian Military Services, followed by the 'Last Post'.
They shall grow not old, as we that 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