ANZACS In the Face of War presents an historical profile of Australia and New Zealand at the outbreak
of war. The legacy of WWI, the shared experiences, and expectations of WWII.
In the years leading up to World War 1, Australia and New Zealand were still finding their identity as nations, and
still looked to the mother country - Britain - for political guidance. When Britain went to war in 1914 in the Middle
East, Australia sent troops to Egypt. On April 25th, 1915, ANZAC troops were ordered to land along the Gallipoli
coastline, which was later named ANZAC Cove. A navigational error meant that the Turks had the advantage,
and tragically the campaign was an unmitigated disaster. Over three years, Australia lost almost 9000 men, New
Zealand twice as many. The heroism of the ANZAC's is celebrated every year on the 25th of April, in a day that
was named in their honour.
It seems hard to imagine what those soldiers went through, but listen to their stories, which have been
immortalized in print as well as voice recordings, and you can't help but notice the constant threads of mateship,
bravery, sacrifice and of course, fear. It is in listening, or reading these stories that we are reminded of just how
much the ANZACS suffered, and sacrificed, to ensure the safety of Australia and New Zealand from invasion
and attack from our enemies. Knowing what we now know of the horrors of war, it is hard to believe that the
leaders of our country at the time sought to glamorise it with propaganda, in order to encourage still more young
men to enlist, to fight for their country.
Many other battles have followed that fateful day in Gallipoli, and many thousands of ANZACS have given their
lives on foreign soil since. But WWI sets itself apart in that barely a family was touched, in some way, by the
deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops. Conscription would again raise its ugly head during the Vietnam
War, igniting mass protests over Australia, America and Britain, calling for it to be scrapped, and our soldiers -
who often were eighteen year old boys barely trained to load a gun, brought home. Perhaps what's most
important in the lessons of the past is that we learn from them, in order not to repeat them in the future.