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By Edited Mar 28, 2016 0 0

We will remember them.

ANZAC Day is a holiday that is shared by Australia and New Zealand and occurs on April 25th.  ANZAC (which stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is a commemoration of the first major action that both Australia's and New Zealand's defence forces encountered during World War 1 and took place on the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey.

The ANZAC forces landed at dawn of April 25th as part of an allied attack with the objective of capturing Istanbul, then known as Constantinople.  As the allies came ashore in boats they found themselves under fire from the fierce resistance of the Turkish defenders.  Many soldiers lost their lives even before they reached the beach.  It had been planned that the soldiers would  land on a flat beach, however when the ANZAC forces landed they found themselves confronted by cliffs.  It turned out they had landed at the wrong site.

The war at Gallipoli lasted 8 months before the allies finally decided to pull out after suffering huge losses.  Over 11,000 ANZAC troops had lost their lives during this time. 

ANZAC day was first celebrated a year after the landing at Gallipoli on April 25th 1916, however it wasn't until 1927 that all states in Australia observed a public holiday.

Simpson and his donkey

Jack Simpson was a 22-year-old man who arrived at Gallipoli on April 25th and helped to transport the injured back to the beach.  As the casualties piled up and stretchers were running out, Simpson and the other rescuers began carrying the casualties on their shoulders. On April 26th Simpson saw one of the donkeys which the allies had brought to carry water and decided it would be easier to carry the injured soldiers on the donkey than his shoulder.  He took the donkey and soon became a familiar sight transporting the injured back to get medical help.  

Simpson went about saving lives until he was fatally shot on May 19th.  Legend has it that he saved over 300 men, however this number is disputed as making that many trips in the harsh terrain and under the fierce fighting is said to have been impossible.  Despite this the legend of Simpson and his donkey are a big part of the ANZAC legend.

ANZAC Day today

 Today, ANZAC day is one of the most solemn public holidays in Australia.  A typical ANZAC day starts with the Dawn Services.  A typical service will contain some readings, a hymn, the laying of a wreath, the playing of the last post and a period of silence.  Later during the day marches are held in which veterans of past wars or current serving members of the Australian Defence Force can march.  

A popular game played on ANZAC day is two up.  The game was popular among the ANZACS and consists of two coins being thrown up in the air.  Bets are placed on the various combinations of heads and tails.  ANZAC day is the only day of the year that it is legal to play two up in clubs and pubs.

To finish with I have included the fourth verse of the poem "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon which is recited on ANZAC day at ceremonies across the country and holds significance to many people.

    They shall grow not old, 
    As we that are left grow old. 
    Age shall not weary them, 
    Nor the years condemn. 
    At the going down of the sun, 
    And in the morning, 
    We will remember them.


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