Monday, April 25, 2011

Greetings from Gallipoli; lest we forget

Well, this morning I've seen the dawn rise above Turkish beaches where far, far too many Kiwis, Aussies, and Turks lost their lives, 96 years ago today. Packed in with many thousands of other Kiwi and Aussie travellers, as well as some others, we're here for the traditional ANZAC Day service at Gallipoli. Crime Watch may be near-solely a book-focused blog, but for today at least, it's time to honour something else.

Down in New Zealand and Australia, and for others all around the world who have links to our two nations, the 25th of April is a very special, and sombre day; ANZAC Day. It is a day when we pause and remember the soldiers, sailors, and others who have served (and are still serving) our countries in wars and conflicts all over the world.

Ninety-siz years ago to this very day, our two nations first fought side by side under the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) banner – our soldiers landing together at dawn on a desolate beach on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It was a military bungle by the British commanders - but the attitudes, actions, and courage of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers both at Gallipoli and over the many battles and years since, stoked a burgeoning sense of independent identity and nationhood.

Despite being so far away from the conflict, and in no direct danger ourselves, more than 100,000 New Zealand troops and nurses served overseas during the First World War, from a population of just over one million. 42% of men of military age served.

Over the past century, Australia and New Zealand have contributed greatly on the world stage in many ways and in many diverse areas, generally 'punching far above our weight' given our geographic isolation and small populations - and in some ways this can be traced back to the values associated with 'the ANZAC tradition'.

Along with book reviews and author features, and my fulltime job as a legal journalist, I freelance write articles for New Zealand and overseas magazines and newspapers on a variety of other subjects, including sport, travel, and business. But one of the articles I am most proud of (not necessarily my best article, but one I'm proud of writing) is one I wrote for the April 2009 issue of WildTomato, interviewing modern military personnel about the ongoing importance of Anzac Day. If you have time, please take a few moments to read that article here.

I'll leave you with a universal and distinct part of any Anzac dawn service, which is timed to coincide with the initial landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 - the reading of the Anzac Dedication:

At this hour, on this day, ANZAC received its baptism of fire and became one of the immortal names in history. We who are gathered here think of the comrades who went out with us to battle but did not return. We feel them still near us in spirit. We wish to be worthy of their great sacrifice. Let us, therefore, once again dedicate ourselves to the service of the ideals for which they died. As the dawn is even now about to pierce the night, so let their memory inspire us to work for the coming of the new light into the dark places of the world.

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.

Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. Yes, thanks. I posted a link on my Lapse of Memory blog. I don't really know if it will bring you much traffic, but every little bit, huh?

  2. Wow, Craig. It must have been strange and moving to be there for the ANZAC day commemoration. It is almost a pilgrimage for many young New Zealanders and Australians.
    The boys' school held a very moving ANZAC assembly, run by the children, and it was impossible not to feel moved by the Last Post echoing around the hall. It must have been amazing to hear it echo around Gallipoli.