- Anzac is more than a name – it is a legend. It was certainly born on the beaches of Gallipoli but it has come to mean much more than the exploits, brave though they were, of the men who served in that campaign. The awesome experience of the Anzac Campaign welded the fledging country of Australia, formed from a collection of Colonial States, into a nation of people who were proud to be Australians.
- On Sunday morning, 5 November 1914 at 7.30am a great fleet left Albany, Western Australia. to plow its way through the Indian Ocean. Aboard those vessels were many eager, earnest young men who had no idea about the realities of what lay ahead for them as part of the Great War. It had been planned to take the seven mile long convoy to England but Sir George Read, Australian High Commissioner in London at that time sought permission for the A.I.F. and New Zealanders to train in Egypt. The proposed training camp in England was a cold bleak location on Salisbury Pain and he felt that the climate in Egypt was far more suitable. So it was that the young Australians celebrated Christmas in the shadow of the pyramids of Egypt.
- The SS Argyllshire was a fine ship of 12,000 tons with ample room for movement and exercise for the 700 horses on board, took her place in line and sailed out of Albany. The horses were exercised daily for an hour and their legs massaged for a further hour. It had been anticipated that at least 20% of the horses shipped from Australia would be lost during the long sea voyage. It was to the credit of those who tended and cared for the animals that only 3% died during the entire voyage. Total of 8,000 horses were shipped.
- The ‘Rising Sun’ badge worn by all the Anzacs on the turned up brim on the left side of the well-known slouch hat was not meant to represent the rising sun. In reality it was a semi-circle of swords and bayonets radiating from a crown. General Bridges selected the badge for the A.I.F. It didn’t take long before it became known as the Rising Sun, a most appropriate symbol.
- A medal, The Anzac Star, sometimes called the Gallipoli Star, was designed but never struck. It was to have been a bronze, 8 pointed star with a circular centre inscribed Gallipoli 1914-1915, with a crown above it. The ribbon was to be yellow to represent the wattle of Australia, grey the fern leaf of New Zealand, red the Army and blue the Navy. King George V gave his approval for the medal to be awarded and it was proposed and sanctioned in the House of Commons on the 15 November 1918 that the Governments of Australia and New Zealand should present their troops with the special medal for operations on Gallipoli. There was an outcry in the British press “…the medal would be unfair to British Troops who served there!” The War Office reversed its decision and the medal was never issued.
- In 1984 Jack Tarrant and Charles Bingham, both Gallipoli veterans suggested to the Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, that the name of Gallipoli should be changed to Anzac Cove if the Turkish Government would agree to it. The Turkish Government was very quick to respond, they would be happy to co-operate. On Anzac Day 1984 Charles and Jack went to the Anzac Day March in Sydney and then drove to Canberra. They met with the Turkish Consul General and he was very much in favour of the name change and also suggested that his Government would be happy to make it a very special occasion. In April 1985 Jack and Charles left Australia as members of the official Australian party that travelled to Turkey to take part in the ceremonial renaming of Gallipoli to Anzac Cove. On his return to Australia Jack said to me when asked about his trip “Instead of going there to kill we went to extend the hand of friendship. It made me very happy.”