April 25 – Anzac Day

Posted on April 25, 2015

ANZAC = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

During World War I, ANZAC and also some Canadian soldiers fought in the British forces at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire. They landed on Gallipoli on this date in 1915.

Where is Gallipoli? And why were soldiers from as far as Australia, New Zealand, England, and Canada fighting there?

Gallipoli is a peninsula (a bit of land surrounded by water on three sides) that forms the northern part of the strait that provided a sea route to the Russian Empire. Russia, France, and Great Britain were Allies during World War I, and the latter two nations mounted an attack on the Ottoman Empire in order to control the peninsula.

At the time, Australia and New Zealand and Canada were all “dominions” of Great Britain, which means that they were self-ruling but only semi-independent; their close ties with Britain meant that the these and other dominions could be called on for soldiers and equipment.

The Gallipoli campaign, like the rest of the war, was long and bloody. There were many casualties on both sides, and after eight months, the Allied forces withdrew to Egypt. It was considered a great victory for the Ottoman Empire – but of course, eventually the Allies triumphed and the Ottoman Empire crumbled.

Anzac Day is a day of remembrance of the people who fought at Gallipoli, especially the people who were injured or killed in the campaign. This remembrance is observed in Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tongo, and it used to be a national holiday in Papua New Guinea and Samoa, as well. Some people in Canada observe the holiday as well.

Anzac Day was celebrated the very next year
after that April 25, 1915, landing.
Nowadays, in Australia and New Zealand, all their nations' people who have served in the armed forces, and especially all of those who died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, are celebrated on Anzac Day. It is an unusual national day in that two separate nations share the same remembrance day and also make reference to both countries in the holiday's name. Other shared days of remembrance tend to have more general names – such as “Armistice Day” and “VE Day” (Victory in Europe Day).

In order to celebrate this important day, there is a Dawn Service (because the ANZAC forces landed on Gallipoli at dawn), and there is a National Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

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