Saturday, April 28, 2007

A__AC Day

The Anzac AThe Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli (Gelibolu), Turkey on April 25 1915, to begin an ill-conceived land campaign, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. ANZAC Day was established in remembrance.

After 92 years, you would expect there to be a degree of objectivity. Yet the New Zealanders who formed a quarter of the Corps, the British and French troops who made up the majority of the Gallipoli Campaign forces, and the defending Turks seem all but airbrushed out of the Australian collective consciousness.

Casualty figures (approx) were as follows: Turks 275,000, Commonwealth 205,000 — of which 7,600 Australians and 2,500 New Zealanders — and 47,000 French. That’s a total of 527,000 casualties (not including wounded) on both sides. Can it possibly be right to disregard 98% of those?

It’s the failure to even mention the New Zealand troops the Aussies were fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with in many of the pieces run on TV that’s perhaps most surprising. Even Andrew Denton’s Gallipoli failed to paint that part of the picture.

Observing two minutes’ silence and reverently uttering “Lest we forget” are no substitute for genuinely learning from the past. And as for wrapping yourself in the Aussie flag at Gallipoli, well I wonder how a few bus-loads of Turks would be received at Bondi Beach draped in their national flag on ANZAC Day...

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