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10 ANZAC Day Gallipoli Facts You Probably Never Knew!

In an attempt to partially erase the blight of defeat there was some politically pressurised reporting from elements of the British and allied press where the entire Gallipoli Campaign was made to appear in a somewhat glorious light. The commander of the allied forces on the ground, General Sir Ian Hamilton, as well as the great Winston Churchill himself were among the high profile and famous names to almost romanticise the action that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula. But, for the ordinary soldier, the military action seen on that faraway soil, was totally devoid of any sort of glory and instead they were subjected to primitive trenches, vermin, dust, blood, bodies, disease and flies. Above all there was the constant fear of death felt throughout the region thanks to the terrifying sights and sounds bought about by 20th-century industrial warfare.

In this list of 10 Gallipoli and ANZAC Day facts we aim to offer some lesser known truths regarding the Gallipoli campaign (or the Battle of Canakkale as the Ottomans named it) that we hope will be of interest to all our avid blog readers.

  1. The Last Post - the lonely bugle call forever etched in the memorial and folklore of Gallipoli, is normally associated with Commonwealth commemorations in remembrance of those who lost their lives in battle. Historically however, the sounding of the last post call meant that an army camps officers had finished final evening inspections and that the camp was secure for the night. On an active battlefield the sound resonated in the darkness and any wounded or lost soldiers might be able to follow the sound back to the safety of their camp. But unbeknown to many, the last post actually derives from the Dutch custom of Taptoe from 17th century Netherlands, when a bugler signalled a definitive end to the day in drinking halls as establishments closed their beer taps of an evening. Hence to this day you will still hear a version of the last post played on the final evening of the Oktoberfest in Munich each year when the last of the beer halls close.
  2. ANZAC Day is commemorated each year in the Middlesex village of Harefield where in 1914 millionaire Aussie expat Charles Billyard-Leake had offered his property and manor home as a repatriation oasis for injured Australian troops. It was expected to host just a few hundred soldiers but after the Gallipoli campaign, it actually became a full working hospital where it's recorded that more than 50,000 Aussie and Kiwi diggers passed through the residence and it became known as the Number 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital. Anzac Day Gallipoli Canon
  3. Rosemary is a herb that was traditionally associated as a funeral offering in Medieval Europe. The sprigs were cast into graves by mourners as a ritual of remembrance and in both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome it was a herb believed to aid in memory. Modern medical science has undertaken many studies on the herb, specifically in oil or powdered form, and many such studies have found that there has been a positive cognitive and calming effect due to rosemary's pungent yet pleasing aroma. Whilst it's uncertain exactly when the wearing of Rosemary became a usual occurrence on ANZAC Day it was certainly recorded in many an ANZAC soldiers journal that it grew wild and plentiful upon the Gallipoli peninsula.
  4. All the ANZACS we actually volunteers and not regular soldiers. In fact 35% of the total ANZACS were first generation Australians and New Zealanders born in Britain. In total 14,000 Kiwis and nearly 50,000 Aussies served in the Gallipoli campaign and fought as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (the MEF) under the control of the British Army. Almost 3,000 Kiwis lost their lives at Gallipoli and nearly 9,000 Australians. With all wounded statistics included there were some 36,000 ANZAC casualties. Also little known was the fact that the ANZAC Corp actually contained soldiers from other nationalities - see our previous blog entitled ANZACS at Gallipoli - Aussies, Kiwis and More? Anzac Day Gallipoli Turkish Cemetery
  5. In Australia the Federal Register of Legislation noted via the ANZAC DAY ACT of 1995, that April 25th is to be a national day of commemoration to (recognise and remember all those who have served Australia (including those who died) in times of war and in war-like conflicts. But, ANZAC Day actually became a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand way back in 1921. However, in Australia, it wasn't until 1927 that it was first noted that all the Australian states observed some sort of public holiday uniformly.
  6. Gallipoli had already seen its fair share of military action in past conflicts. Attila the Hun had invaded the peninsula (in 443AD) almost destroying the mighty Eastern Roman Army. During the Crimean War in the mid 1800's the Ottoman Empire was actually allied with Britain and France and the British army base of operations was at Gallipoli. And Troy, just across the Dardanelles, is the site of perhaps one of the most famous battles of antiquity (or of mythology depending on your point of view!). Anzac Day Gallipoli Commonwealth cemetery
  7. Despite the horrific losses suffered in the Gallipoli Campaign by the ANZACS it was actually the British who bore the brunt of the fighting at Gallipoli, mostly in the south at Cape Helles, where more than 33,000 British servicemen lost their lives and a staggering 78,000 were wounded. The French, also hard hit, and were inflicted with losses of around 10,000 men. And, whilst history has recorded nearly 70,000 Ottomans killed in the fighting at Gallipoli - unofficially - that figure is reputed to be much closer to nearly 170,000 - indeed many Turkish army divisions were wiped out and had to be rebuilt from scratch in 1916. More can be read regarding the Turkish perspective of their military involvement in the Great War in a previous blog entitled Generations End - Gallipoli
  8. Towards the end of the Great War in 1918, the Gallipoli Peninsula was taken and occupied by the British without a shot being fired less than three years after the evacuation of the remaining soldiers of the Gallipoli Campaign. Anzac Day Gallipoli dawn service
  9. The image of Jack Simpson and his donkey passed into Australian folklore due to his life-saving heroics at Gallipoli but Simpson was actually an Englishman who'd been in Australia and signed up as a volunteer as a way to get back to England so he could visit his mother. The Australians and New Zealanders were re-routed to Egypt on their journey to Europe, instead of to their original destination for training in England, and Simpson instead found himself on the beaches of Gallipoli on April 25th of 1915 and was shot in the back and killed by machine gun fire less than a month later. See our previous blog on this topic entitled ANZAC Gallipoli Legends - A Kiwi and His Donkey
  10. The youngest ANZAC to lose his life at Gallipoli was Private James Charles (Jim) Martin who was 14 years and 9 months old. Jim was not involved in the Gallipoli Landings on the 25th of April but arrived on 8th of September 1915 as part of the 21st Battalion and participated in action around Courtney's Post. Jim was not killed in action but was instead struck down by Typhoid Fever finally succumbing to heart failure aboard the hospital ship Glenart Castle in late October. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial. The oldest ANZAC to survive Gallipoli was Australian Alec Campbell who passed away in 2002 of pneumonia aged 103 years. Alec was also not a Gallipoli landing veteran having arrived on the peninsula in November of 1915 and he was actually 16 when involved in action at Gallipoli primarily as a runner and carrier where he supplied the trenches with ammunition, water and other stores. Alec also became ill with fever and was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on the 22nd of August 1916 - a World War 1 and Gallipoli veteran at only 17 years of age! Anzac Day Gallipoli North Beach

As historian, author and scientist John North put it so poignantly in reference to Gallipoli, "No battleground so easily lends itself to retrospective sentimentality, and sadly, also to mythology".

We hope you enjoyed this read and if you are interested in any sort of ANZAC Day Tour to Gallipoli, all of which include the moving and reverential Dawn Service at ANZAC Cove , please have a look at our suggested options below.

Lest We Forget!

Mark is Managing Partner of PP Travel and has travelled to Turkey dozens of times and to the Gallipoli ANZAC Day Dawn Service on 16 occasions.

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Posted: 22 November 2019 17:26:34 GMT by Mark
Being at Gallipoli exactly 105 years on from when our forefathers landed in Turkey, creating the Anzac legend, will be a moment cherished by a privileged few. PP Travel is a an Australian and NZ DVA recognised Anzac tour operator who will be returnin ... read more

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