The History of ANZAC Day


 ANZAC DAY - 25th APRIL - is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the 1st major military action fought by Australian and new Zealand forces during WW1. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as "ANZACS", and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day.

Why is the day special to Australians ? When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 14 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian & New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsular to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at dawn on the 25th April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for 8 months.

At the the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians at home and 25th April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the ANZACS.