Aftermath of the Gallipoli Campaign

 

Australians had mixed experiences after the failed Gallipoli Campaign. The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) re-grouped in Egypt to prepare for battles in Europe and the Middle East. Soldiers who were invalided home during and after the campaign faced the challenge of re-establishing themselves in Australian society. Indigenous veterans came home to the same discrimination and laws that had always shaped their lives. Many returned soldiers felt humbled by the experience on Gallipoli. They and their families honoured that memory for years to come.

Human costs to belligerents

Australian troops of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions relax inside a captured Turkish trench at Lone Pine, 12 August 1915. AWM G01126

In human terms, the nearly 11 months of the Anglo-French effort to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war cost more than 141,100 dead and wounded soldiers, not to mention the sailors who died in the earlier naval efforts to get through the strait of the Dardanelles.

Australian losses amounted to more than 8700 dead and 19,400 wounded. This was close to 50% of the approximately 50,000 to 60,000 men of the AIF who served in the campaign.

The Ottoman Empire lost at least 86,000 dead and 164,000 wounded.

Members of the AIF who were still fit for service after the Gallipoli Campaign were reorganised in Egypt for new deployments to the Western Front and the Middle East.

Those who'd returned home during or after the campaign were welcomed as local heroes. Many privately struggled with the experience of war. Some worked hard to create local support networks for returned sailors and soldiers.

When Indigenous veterans came home, they returned to the same discrimination and government control that had determined the shape of their lives before they enlisted. They were also denied concessions given to other veterans, such as war pensions and participation in soldier settlement schemes.

Analysis of the campaign

Academics began to analyse the Gallipoli Campaign as soon as it was over.

For example, Brown, Prior & Co in Melbourne published the book The Great Withdrawal in March 1916, by Dr John William Springthorpe. The proceeds of its sale went to the Lady Mayoress' Patriotic League for Our Fighting Men. Dr Springthorpe was a renowned Melbourne academic and physician who enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1914.

Some military historians have judged the Gallipoli Campaign ill-advised, largely badly executed and overall of little or no significance in the wider war. One historian wrote that the only benefit to Australia was that, for another year, it kept the men of the AIF away from the Western Front, where they would undoubtedly have suffered even heavier losses.

Would the Allies' capture of the Gallipoli peninsula, followed by the arrival of a British fleet at Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), have knocked the Turks out of the war? Historian Robin Prior concluded in 2009:

... there is no evidence that Turkey would have been out of the war even if Constantinople had fallen. In all likelihood Turkey would have continued to fight ... Despite the bravery of the Allied troops ... the campaign was fought in vain.

Legacy of the Gallipoli experience

Soldiers standing in a trench
Australian troops in the Turkish trenches at Lone Pine captured by the AIF 1st Brigade, 6 August 1915. AWM A02022

For Australia, Gallipoli has never just been about such hard-headed analysis, however accurate.

In defeat, what mattered was the quality of those who endured those long months of struggle, danger, ill-health and loss. Then, as now, what enabled men to cope with the hell around them were the attributes of courage, discipline, endurance and humour.

An Australian officer wrote of how the trenches were:

no place for a selfish natured man where almost everything is common property, just for the asking.

Along with the confidence that the AIF could perform in battle, this was one of the legacies of the Gallipoli experience for Australia. The birth of the Anzac legend, of which this selflessness was one element, ensured that the original Anzacs continued to inspire subsequent generations of service men and women.

Remembering Anzac

A soldier standing with 2 other men in suits
Three men who held official positions in the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, Adelaide, 1917. SLSA PRG 280/1/39/4

Perhaps the legacy of Gallipoli has always been most closely guarded by the families of those who fought and died there?

Thomas Drane, an English-born tailor from Forbes, New South Wales, was a veteran of the Gallipoli landing. In early 1918, he wrote to the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Aware of rules preventing misuse of the word 'Anzac' for commercial or other unsuitable purposes, Drane asked if he could give his first child 'Anzac' as a middle name. Was it legal for an 'original Anzac' to do this?

Transcript of the letter from Thomas Drane (Item 29/3484, Part 19, A432/86, National Archives of Australia):

No 3 The TerraceSherriff StForbesN.S.W2/1/18

Dear Sir,I want you to grant me permission to name my first born baby George Anzac. The reason I ask you is this. To be sure that it is legal for an original Anzac to name his child as above. I myself left Australia with the First Div in Oct 1914, and I was wounded in Gallipoli, which cost me a leg. Also I was the first to volunteer from this town, and my child is the first to be born here with an Anzac for his father. My wife's Brother also left with the First Div and he laid down his life at Gallipoli and that is the reason we want to name him so. Hoping to hear very favourably from you.I RemainYours in anticipationT. E. DraneLate of Field Coy Engineers

While the Gallipoli Campaign might have been fought in vain, for Drane and his family, it was a place they would forever honour with their memory.

Drane was the first person in Australia to use the name for personal use, giving his three sons the middle name 'Anzac': George Anzac Drane, Albert Edward Anzac Drane and Thomas Anzac Drane. The family tradition continued, with five great great grandsons of Thomas Edward Drane who now have the middle name 'Anzac'.

Follow the war-time experience of Sapper Drane through letters and reports published in The Forbes Advocate newspaper.

Like Drane, many veterans of Gallipoli played a role in welcoming home service men and women throughout the war, and establishing local branches of various associations for returned sailors and soldiers.


Last updated: 11 March 2020

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2020), Aftermath of the Gallipoli Campaign, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 25 September 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/ww1/where-australians-served/gallipoli/aftermath
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