How the Gallipoli battle helped Australia and New Zealand forge national identities

The Battle of Gallipoli

On April 25, 1915, the Anzac forces joined the British Empire and French troops at Gallipoli, Turkey, landing at what is now known as Anzac Cove.

As part of their plans to capture the Gallipoli peninsula and open the Dardanelles to the allied navies, the troops set out to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, which is modern-day Istanbul.

Upon arrival, the Anzacs were met with the Ottoman Turkish defenders and faced a challenging battle in the subsequent eight months.

By the end of 1915, the military objectives were not successfully met and more than 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed.

How is Anzac Day celebrated in Australia and New Zealand?

While the eight month campaign resulted in tragedy and troops failing to capture the Gallipoli peninsula, the sacrifices the Anzacs made left a profound effect on those back home and became a source of national pride in Australia and New Zealand.

The “Anzac legend” soon forged a significant part of both countries’ identities and in 1916, the first commemorations were held on April 25, with several ceremonies across Australia, a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt and a march attended by 2,000 Australians. and New Zealand troops in London.

Patriotic events continued to be held on April 25 throughout the following years and during the 1920s, Anzac Day was established as a public holiday in Australia. By 1927, every state held a form of commemoration.

In the 1930s, dawn vigils, memorial services and games of two-up became annual traditions to honor the Anzacs, many of which continue to play an important role in modern day commemorations.

In later years, April 25 evolved as a day to recognize the Australians and New Zealanders who died in the Second World War and since 1942, Anzac Day has been honored at the Australian War Memorial.

Today, Anzac Day is a national occasion to remember everyone who served and died in all wars and peacekeeping action.

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