Gallipoli and Anzac Day
Thousands of young people visit this isolated site in Turkey on April 25th as part of the mythology of a terrible war and the loss of many Australian and New Zealander young men. The British blundered in ordering this campaign and some of the soldiers of that time said they respected the opposing Turks more than the British army leaders! The campaign, lasting from April 1915 to January 1916, led to over 52,000 Allied and anywhere between 50,000 and 200,000 Turkish casualties.
The Anzac (Australian, New Zealand Army Corp) story of the Gallipoli failure has become part of Australian national identity and today is a time for remembrance of the war dead, mateship, with a fair bit of jingoism. Often neglected are the stories of the maimed, disorientated, mentally wounded men who returned to their homeland traumatised.
There has been a resurgence over the past ten years of interest in this public holiday and many young people visiting the site. Perhaps it's a need for ritual and connection to family history. It was such a tragedy.
One thing that comes to my mind is the futility of war and anger at the loss of life of young people by incompetent orders. Are army bosses more to be admired than bullies? I know that many people of my generation do not like being dictated to, to be told what to do. They say that in World War 1, one in twenty soldiers refused to obey orders and many went to court martials. Are they heroes too because they stood up against incompetent orders?