ANZPT Sydney: Lest we forget

In the history of World War I, the Gallipoli campaign is considered a minor chapter in the so-called "war to end all wars". But the shockwaves it sent through the nations of Australia and New Zealand is remembered to this day, April 25, and commemorated on ANZAC Day.

Hundreds of memorial services and marches took place this morning throughout the major cities of both nations, and at suburban and regional RSL clubs. It's a chance for our "diggers" to catch up with old mates and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the numerous battles fought by Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women.


Thousands turned out for this morning's ANZAC Day march through the streets of Sydney

However, it's on that hilly peninsula in western Turkey where the legend was born. When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federated Commonwealth for just 13 years.

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, to open the way to the Black Sea and capture the city of Istanbul.

The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on April 25, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties.

More than 8000 Australian and 2700 New Zealand soldiers died. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and April 25 quickly became the day on which we remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives (mostly thanks to the poor Intelligence gathered prior to the campaign), the Australian and New Zealand troops' actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy, which we know as the ANZAC legend. It shapes who we are as Australians and New Zealanders, and defines us to this day.

We'll be playing poker today at Star City to decide the 2010 ANZPT Sydney title, but our thoughts will be with others. Lest we forget.