On 25 April, ANZAC Day is observed in Australia and New Zealand, commemorating the sacrifices made by those serving in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. An annual event, ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli by Australia and New Zealand’s troops on 25 April 1915.
In their first major action of the First World War, the ANZAC forces suffered considerably. Alongside fellow Commonwealth forces (which included the Royal Newfoundland Regiment), their numbers were decimated by inclement weather, insufficient shelter and supplies, a skilled opponent and rampant disease. Conditions at Gallipoli were prone to disease and misery with cramped trenches and extreme fluctuations in weather – 145,000 Commonwealth troops became sick, and nearly 7,000 were hospitalized for frostbite. The suffering experienced in the Gallipoli Campaign galvanized the ANZAC forces and produced an indomitable spirit that became known as “the Anzac Legend”.
In the words of Charles Bean, Australia’s official war historian after 1918:
“Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat.”
It is important to note, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment also served in Gallipoli, arriving in September 1915 and serving as the rearguard during the evacuation off the continent in January 1916.
ANZAC Day has since become a national observance for Australians and New Zealanders, similar to Remembrance Day in Canada. This past ANZAC Day in 2017, members of the New Zealand Defence Force performed a haka to the fallen during the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.