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Gallipoli mission was destined to fail


Australia and New Zealand, as part of the British Empire, were, in the period of WWI, in bed with the French and Russian Empires. This formed an alliance called the Entrente Powers, to the rest of us simply the Allies. There was an opposing alliance lead by Germany, with Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian and Ottoman Empires. This was called the Central Alliance.

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day is a commemoration of a disastrous 25 April 1915 landing onto Gallipoli Turkey soil by these combined ANZAC’s to be, under British command. A mission impossible.

Commander of operation and of British forces, including ANZAC’s and the French, was General Ian Hamilton. Commander of the ANZAC’s, 16,000 Australians and New Zealanders, was Lieutenant-General William Birdwood.

In Turkey, the locals under Mastafa Kemal defended their families to their deaths. Albeit successful, more than 87,000 local Ottoman soldiers died fighting inside their home, protecting against outside intruders.

By the time the Allies comprehended their own defeat more than 130,000 men had died from both sides. At least 8,700 Australians and 2,779 Kiwi’s. The Allies aborted Gallipoli, evacuating in January 1916. From this failed campaign by the Allies a new combined nationalism of Australia and New Zealand was birthed, to be known as the ANZAC’s.

This failure cost Winston Churchill his position. His highhanded attack on Turkey underestimated the Ottomans. It was ill executed on the ground, with troops landing in the wrong location and confusion abounded. It was a campaign destined to fail. It haunted Churchill until his death.

The poppy we wear on ANZAC day is the Papaver Rhoeas.  It grew wild as a weed in fields torn up by shells. When the earth was ripped apart by bombs it exposed the seeds to light and so caused germination. These are the wild flowers that grew on the battle fields amongst the many fallen in WWI. The Papaver Rhoeas is also known as the Flanders Poppy. 

The Flanders Remembrance Poppy was thought of and coined by Madame Anna Guerin of France. Founding a charity to help after WWI she raised funds by making these poppies from fabric in remembrance. This inspired the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

Flanders Field is in Belgium, located in Waregem. It is the only ABMC (American Battle Monuments Commission) WWI cemetery in Belgium. An ABMC cemetery is an alternative to repatriation of American war dead. It is a permanent military cemetery created by the USA War Department.

All gone these soldiers of WWI to the long night and now passing from the world of light are our soldiers of WWII. To all military personnel since 1918 and 1946 to present day who have carried those ANZAC’s gone on your shoulders, he mihi atu.

Kia koutou Nga Hoia ANZAC. He mihi tangi he mihi aroha kia koutou kua tae po i te moumou tangata. Ko koutou ra e moe te moenga roa, ara ko koutou te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, te hunga ora ki te hunga ora. Tihewa mauriora!

Following ANZAC day, on Sunday April 30, are three WWII movies showing at MTG Hawke’s Bay. In the Century Theatre at 2:00pm is Spitfire, the story of a fighter plane and the pilots that helped win the Battle of Britain. At 4:00pm is Labyrinth of Lies, a story that exposes the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during WWII. At 6:30pm is Persian Lessons about a young Jewish man who pretends to be Iranian to avoid being executed in a concentration camp.

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper on 22 April 2023 and written by Te Hira Henderson, Curator Taonga Maori at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

24 April 2023

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