Lest We Forget – Gallipoli – a remembrance by Milton Gillie
This is Ray Mossholder. America is my homeland and I am 100% true blood American. There will never be a doubt in me about that. But there are two other countries I have spent so much time in and that I deeply love – Australia and New Zealand. They are both amazingly beautiful countries with beautiful people in them and I will never forget my precious friends across the sea.
On this Memorial Day it seems fitting to share with you an article written by our Reach More Now correspondent in Australia – Milton Gillie. He sent me this earlier this year, but I could think of no time more appropriate than this weekend to present it to you.
Warx it is in his party and is finishing itPart way through this article I’m inserting the final scene from the movie “Gallipoli” and the beginning of the battle Milton describes in what he’s written
April 25th in Australia & New Zealand is ANZAC day. We commemorate the day in 1915 when the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps from which the name ANZAC is derived stormed the beach in Turkey as part of the English operation to attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula.
Today right across our countries their will be dawn services and marches followed by remembrance services.
The English commanders completely stuffed up the operation, landing the soldiers on the wrong beach. Instead of landing at the planned beach where they could make a realistic assault on the Turkish position they were landed on a beach beneath a fortress like cliff above them filled with fortified bunkers and machine guns. Many never even made it to the beach.
This is Ray. if you have the stomach for it, let me show you visually what happened. This is really what Memorial Day represents in America. Our military has been sometimes caught in the same kinds of death traps. This scene is from one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen – Mel Gibson and a tremendous cast in Gallipoli…
The campaign was a slaughter as the task of taking the land above the cliff was next to impossible. On the allied side over 44000 died during the campaign with another 97000 being injured. The Turks suffered even heavier casualties with 86000 dead and another 165000 injured.
It lasted from April 25th to the following January 8th when the commanders, having accepted defeat, withdrew all surviving personnel.
The withdrawal being one of the greatest war time successes. Elaborate devices were set up in the trenches that periodically fired rifles at the Turkish position fooling them into believing the area was still occupied. Unlike the landing when so many were killed by machine gun fire before they even made it to shore, not a single life was lost in the withdrawal.
Despite the overwhelming odds a division of the ANZACs achieved their goal and captured one of the posts on the peninsula. No other posts were taken by any forces involved in the campaign.
It is recognized as the single event that shaped our nation and forged the belief that we are a nation. Prior to that we still saw ourselves as an English colony despite Federation actually having taken place on Jan 1st 1901.
It was also the first time that heroic deeds by our soldiers that have become legendary in our folklore, took place on behalf of our nation.
The highest military award that can be received in the British Commonwealth countries is the Victoria cross. It is the equivalent of the US Medal of Honor.
Nine Australians and one New Zealander were awarded Victoria Cross for this campaign, 7 of these coming from the Battle of Lone Pine between 6th to 9th August 1915. In all 39 were awarded to all troupes under the British command for the campaign.
Many of the Victoria Cross winners actually died in action for which they receive the award. Indeed our most well known war hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a medic who for 21 days on the campaign took his donkey under enemy fire to retrieve the injured and bring them back to safely before he was shot and killed.
Every school child in Australia is taught the story of Simpson and his donkey, Statues of both exist an more than one memorial site around the country.
The deeds of Albert Jacka who singlehandedly routed a Turkish attack who had overrun his bunker and killed all the other solders in that bunker, before he drove them out, were so legendary that in the 1930’s he was probably one of the most well known Australian, although not so well today.
There were many others whose deeds were just as great, some who were recognized other who got no recognition.
In the WW2 Kokoda campaign, which was one of the most important campaigns of the war against the Japanese there were a number of recommendations for the Victoria Cross to be awarded, yet only 1 was. Reading eye witness reports from the campaign, its hard to believe that there were not about a dozen awarded.
But whether they rise to such heights or whether unknown, every single person who served our country is recognized today and honored. For the vast majority of our nation they are given due recognition on this day.
Sadly although it a small minority there are more and more instances of disrespect to our service people. This year police manged to foil a plot to carry out a terror attack on a march. This is the second time it’s happened. This year it was a 16 year old boy who was found with explosives that were intended to kill and maim those marching.
The scripture tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. Many have done so and we must continue to honor them, lest we forget.
In September 1914 poet Robert Laurence Binyon wrote For the Fallen. Perhaps no greater tribute has been written to honor those who gave their life in service for their country. Verse four of the poem is used every single Anzac day to help us honor our fallen soldiers.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
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.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labor of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.