Anzac Day Posters 2015

The Anzac Day posters highlight the significance of the landings at Gallipoli. The images capture a moment in time as men step off the boats and begin their climb up the steep terrain.

Series: Anzac Day posters
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Wartime snapshot

At around 4.30 am on Sunday 25 April 1915, the first soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed near Ari Burnu on the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the same morning, soldiers from Britain, France and their colonies launched assaults at nearby Cape Helles and Kum Kale. The Allies wanted to destroy the forts overlooking the Dardanelles to allow a fleet to enter the Sea of Marmara and bombard the Ottoman (commonly known as Turkish) capital, Constantinople. They hoped Turkey would surrender, easing pressure on Russia and depriving Germany of an ally.

Men of the 3rd Australian Brigade were the first Anzac troops ashore. Approaching the coast on board Royal Navy warships, they were woken around 1 am, fed and assembled. The first wave boarded thirty-six rowing boats and were towed towards the beach until they were close enough to row to shore. Mostly landing at a place that became known as Anzac Cove, the Australian troops came under fire before they had stepped ashore.

We thought that our landing was to be effected quite unopposed, but when our boats were within about 30 yards [around 27 metres] of the beach a rifle was fired from the hill in front of us above the beach right in front of where we were heading for. Almost immediately heavy rifle and machine gun fire was opened up on us. We had to row for another 15 yards [around 4.5 metres] or so before we reached water shallow enough to get out of the boats.

10 Battalion War Diary 25/4/15, War Office Papers, WO 95/4344, National Archives, Kew, cited in Prior, 2009, p. 114. Under increasingly heavy Turkish machine gun and rifle fire, the Anzacs raced inland into a warren of steep ground, razorback ridges and scrub-filled gullies that caused formations to either bunch together or separate into small groups.

The following waves of Anzacs came ashore as Turkish shells began bursting over the landing area. A soldier's experience of the landing could be remarkably different depending on when he landed on that first day. One described it as 'a perfect hail of bullets' at dawn, while a New Zealand officer landing in mid-morning wrote of his surprise at how relatively 'peaceful' the landing was.

Meanwhile, Turkish troops were responding to the Anzac landing in force. The battle ebbed and flowed, with the Anzacs taking, losing, and then retaking ground in the face of Turkish counter-attacks. In some places the Anzacs were forced off key locations, such as the hill known as Baby 700, which they would not retake during the entire campaign. By the end of that first day, the Turks threatened to force the Anzacs into the sea. The situation was so precarious that the Anzac commanders considered immediate evacuation. However, they were ordered to dig in by their superior, General Sir Ian Hamilton.

Historian estimate some 2000 Australians were killed or wounded on 25 April, but there are no precise casualty figures for that day – the fighting was too confused and casualties were widely dispersed across the battlefield, the beach and on board hospital ships. The Anzacs were evacuated in December 1915, and by then some 8700 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders had been killed. In total, the Gallipoli campaign cost the lives of around 44,000 Allied and 86,000 Turkish soldiers.

References

Australian War Memorial, Dawn of the Legend Exhibition, online at www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/dawn.

Kevin Fewster, Vecihi Başarin, Hatice Hürmüz Başarin, Gallipoli: The Turkish story, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2003.

Ian McGibbon (ed.), The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History, Oxford University Press, Auckland, 2000.

Robin Prior, Gallipoli: The end of the myth, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2009.

Dr Richard Reid, Australians in World War I: Gallipoli, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Canberra, 2010.

Denis Winter, 25 April 1915 – The inevitable tragedy, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1994.

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