Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
From cities, towns and rural communities in every corner of Australia and New Zealand they went as volunteers, young and confident. They fought as comrades, clinging grimly to the toehold won at such cost. They forged a reputation for courage and endurance, then withdrew with honour. Such is the image that the troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps bequeathed to our young nations at Gallipoli in 1915. The Anzac spirit symbolises the shared history of the two nations and the shared aspirations of our peoples. It reminds us that our bonds of friendship remain strong.
The Gallipoli Campaign
In pale dawn light on the morning of April 25th, 1915, elements of the Third Australian Infantry Brigade waded ashore beneath the rough hills of Ari
Burnu, marking the beginning of a bloody, and unsuccessful, eight month campaign to take
Gallipoli. They were the first members of the as yet untried Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to taste battle.
|Although put ashore in the wrong location and facing steep hills instead of the expected slopes, the Anzacs fought tenaciously inland against fierce resistance. But within weeks, the fighting reached a stalemate. Both sides would launch offensives during the rest of the campaign, but each would be repulsed with frightening loss of life.|
On paper, the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster. It did not realise any of its political or strategic aims, while 7,600 Australians and 2,500 New Zealanders died in the fighting, with many thousands more wounded. But from that time on, the Anzacs knew their mettle. They had been exposed to some of the bloodiest fighting of the war and were unbowed. They now had a fighting tradition and reputation to uphold.
|Perhaps the whole Anzac tradition is best embodied in the story of Simpson and his Donkey. John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a stretcher-bearer in the Medical Corps, who, although separated from his unit, continued to work on his own initiative. On the night of April 25th, he found and took over a donkey which he used to help evacuate the wounded. Simpson escaped death so many times he was completely fatalistic. The deadly sniping and furious shrapnel never stopped him. No one knows how many men he saved but it certainly numbered in the hundreds. He died with a piece of shrapnel in his heart on May 19th. He was 23.|
Simpson, an Australian, had a New Zealand counterpart. Lieutenant James Henderson also acquired a donkey which he used to move wounded men to the dressing stations behind the trenches. On August 9th, men of his regiment were sent to reinforce the Wellington Battalion for an assault. Of the 248 Aucklanders involved, only 52 survived, most of them wounded. Henderson was not among the living.
|The Anzacs had no experience of their new enemy. Initially, believing the propoganda they had heard, they despised the Turks. But that attitude began to change on May 19. 40,000 Turks attacked a section of line held by 13,000 Anzacs. The attack was routed, leaving 10,000 dead and wounded Turks heaped about the devastated landscape.|
Because of the stench, a truce was arranged a few days later to bury the dead. For a short time Anzac and Turk mingled and got to know each other. The enemy now had a human face. From that time the Anzacs considered the Turks more as sporting rivals than enemies, calling them Jacko, Abdul or Johnnie Turk.
Source: Booklet accompanying the ANZAC 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Set.
|But never for a moment did these new attitudes alter their fighting spirit. The standards set by the Anzacs at their first call is now an integral part of our tradition. Dr C.E.W. Bean, the official historian of 1914-1918 described the tradition like this:|
'Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.'
The ANZAC tradition is commemorated on the following coins and sets:
Australian 1990 Five Dollars
New Zealand 1990 Five Dollars
Australian 1999 Dollars - Silver, C, S, M, B and A
2000 'Lest We Forget' 1915 ANZAC Set.
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Last modified: 05 December, 2007