Anzac Day – 25 April: 109 years on

Photo:  One of the new maps added to the 4th edition

400 words – 2 minute read

In most parts of the inhabited world April brings the promise of renewal, spring with flowers bursting in colours not seen during the wet and stormy days of winter.  In the southern hemisphere it brings cooler temperatures and shorter days and the slow slide into winter.  And in Australia and New Zealand, April brings memories of the heroic battles the Anzac soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula fought in April 1915.  Even after all these years they “shall not be forgotten”.  And they aren’t.

Martin writes in his First World War, A Complete History:

On 25 April 1915, a day of gas and demoralisation for British and French alike on the Western Front, the Anglo-French military landings, from which the Allies expected so much, took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  Like the naval attack on the Narrows five weeks earlier, the troop landings were carried out in the hope of a swift victory.  No victory, however, either swift or slow, resulted.  As with the naval attack, there were moments when it seemed that success was within grasp.  Opportunities for success existed, but were cast away by mistakes and mischance.

It was … Australians and the New Zealand troops, who had reached Egypt on their way to the Western Front and been diverted for the quick and easy battle against the Turks, who were put ashore on Z beach.  Possibly because of a navigational error, they were put ashore not at their original landing place, Gaba Tepe, from where they might have advanced on almost level ground across the central part of the peninsula at its narrowest point, but at Ari Burna, a smaller cape further north, below the precipitous heights of Chunuk Bair.  “Tell the Colonel,” Commander Dix, in charge of the first landing, called out, “that the damn fools have landed us a mile too far north!”

In Martin’s updated First World War Atlas, 4th edition, I was able to add his maps, in particular of those terrible times in the trenches as brave young men fought and fell.

On April 25th the Anzac troops landed.  In eight months of fighting the Turks, they did not reach their first day’s objective.  But they did manage to hold ground for a few months.  In my indexing of the maps places with legendary names like Suvla Bay and Chanak became familiar places to me too.

Get: First World War Atlas

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