Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC Day

Today is ANZAC Day.  Today we commemorate the brave men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps's involvement in the Gallipoli campaign of World War I, which was an attempt to knock Turkey out of World War I and open the Bosphorus to Russian, British, and French shipping.  By the time that the British high command realized that the fighting at Gallipoli was going nowhere, almost 150,000 Australian, New Zealand , British, French, and Indian soldiers were dead or wounded.

As far as I know, I have no familial ties to Australia or the rest of the Commonwealth.   But I do remember my mother and her mother making ANZAC Cookies every April.  It was only later in life that I learned just what those hard, sweet cookies meant.  I did serve with some outstanding Diggers from Australia once or twice, and if their great-grandfathers were half as resourceful, professional, and friendly as the soldiers I met, then a lot of good men had their trial by fire on the shores of Gallipoli.

If you're interested in learning a bit about the Battle of Gallipoli and the soldiers who fought on both sides, the 2005 documentary "Gallipoli" was very well done.  I also came across this poem a few months ago, and thought I'd share.  It was written by an Australian soldier who was convalescing from wounds received at Gallipoli.


Gallipoli
The new dawn lights the eastern sky;
Night shades are lifted from the sea,
The Third Brigade with courage storm
Thy wooded heights, Gallipoli
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Australians tread Gallipoli.

Thunderous bursts from iron mouths -
Myriad messengers of death,
Warships ply their deadly fire
Watching comrades hold their breath
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
There's hell upon Gallipoli.

Serried ranks upon the beach,
Courage beams in every eye
These Australian lads can face
Giant Death, though e'er so nigh,
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
There's death upon Gallipoli.

On they press in endless stream,
Up the heights they shouting go;
Comrades fall; but still press on
They press the now retreating foe
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
The Turks flee on Gallipoli.

One by one the brave lie low,
Machine Guns, shrapnel do their work;
Brave Australians know no fear,
Never have been known to shirk,
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Their names carved on Gallipoli.

Reduced, cut up, there numbers show
The murderous fire that swept thy field;
But still victorious they stand,
Who never have been known to yield
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Thick dead lie on Gallipoli.

For days they hold with grim set grip,
Their feet firm planted on the shore,
Repelling every fierce attack
And cheerfully they seek for more
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Their trenches line Gallipoli.
For thirty weary days they fight,
For Britain's sake they give their best;
With uncomplaining voice they stand
And neither look nor ask for rest
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
They've conquered thee, Gallipoli.

The waves break on thy wave swept shores,
The breeze still blows across thy hills;
But crosses near and far abound,
A sight that deepest grief instils
Gallipoli! Gallipoli !
Their graves lie on Gallipoli.

For those brave hearts that died to show
Australia's worth in this dread war,
The far off tears and sighs for those
Who sleep beneath the cannons roar
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Thou still, shalt pay, Gallipoli.

The few that valiant still remain,
War worn but grim and anger yet
To hurl full vengeance on the foe.
Because they never can forget
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
They ask the price, Gallipoli.

Gallipoli I warn you now,
Australia's sons and Turks shall meet
Once more, and then our onslaught yet
Shall sweep the ground beneath your feet
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Thy end's in sight, Gallipoli.

Upon the Graves of those that sleep,
Upon thy wooded slope and vale,
We shall avenge. Remember then,
Australians cannot, will not fail,
Gallipoli ! Gallipoli !
Thy doom is sealed, Gallipoli.


Staff Sergeant Sydney Bolitho.
6th Battalion A.I.F

2 comments:

Julie said...

ANZAC biccies are pretty yummy :)

Shepherd K said...

Don't forget the dramatic movie version with Mel Gibson.

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