Tomorrow is April 25th. This day is observed in New Zealand and Australia as a day of commemoration for those who died in the service of their country and to honour returned servicemen and women. It is a national public holiday in both countries. 25 April is the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) at Gallipoli in 1915.
The ill fated assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, began on 25 April 1915. It was an attempt by Allied Command to weaken the strategic position of the enemy and it was the New Zealand Expeditionary Force's first major engagement of the First World War. My great uncle Charlie was there and lived to tell the tale (minus only 3 fingers).
On the first anniversary of that landing, dawn services were held throughout both countries in remembrance of the 2,721 New Zealand soldiers and 8,709 Australians who died during the eight-month Gallipoli campaign. Since 1916 ANZAC Day has evolved to the observance we know today. In New Zealand there is a ceremony in almost every town around their war memorial cenotaph. Most are simple affairs where the gathered veterans ‘stand-to’ for 2 minutes while a lone bugler plays The Last Post before a short service. Always poignant.
Flanders Poppies, 2004, photograph by Nostalgic T + Allan
The symbol of Anzac Day in New Zealand is the red Flanders Poppy. This flower is the symbol of sacrifice as it was the first thing to grow on the churned up soil of the soldiers graves in the Napoleonic wars and again in WWI after the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele.
Lest We Forget
Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries...
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (founder of modern Turkey), 1934
Kiwi born artist Euan MacLeod has won this years Gallipoli art prize for his work entitled ‘Smoke in Landscape/Shovel’ which was judged to best depict the spirit of the Gallipoli campaign.
Sorry, no photo available.
Figure Sitting on Boat In Desert’, 2007, by Euan MacLeod