Monday, April 25, 2011

We shall remember them


Today in Australia and New Zealand it is ANZAC day. A day when we remember the day that Australians and New Zealander’s landed on Anzac Cove in the Dardanelles, on Turkish soil, in an attempt to bring the First World War to a speedy conclusion.


Unfortunately the campaign resulted in a stalemate and in the end the ANZAC force was evacuated. It then went on to fight with distinction in the battlefields of France.


Gallipoli, as the place is known to Australians, resulted in a number of ‘firsts’ for Australia. It was the first place we fought together as a nation and it was the place that we received our first Victoria Cross, the ultimate military medal for bravery in combat.


During the 9 months of the Gallipoli campaign, 9 Victoria Crosses were awarded and 8,709 men were killed. Contrast this to the 5,333 who were killed or wounded in the first battle of the western front at Fromelles in 1916.


Now contrast this again to the final battle Australian troops fought in during World War I – Mont St Quentin, in which 8 Victoria Crosses were awarded for a single battle. My point is that I am glad to see that ANZAC day is becoming a day that we remember all our service people both past and serving as the awareness grows beyond one simply landing.


Another interesting point that I was pondering today. During World War I we received 63 Victoria Crosses. During World War II we won 20 and during Vietnam 4. Since Vietnam there has not be a Victoria Cross awarded until recently when 2 were awarded to soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. It seems to me that there is a correlation between the number of losses we sustain in a war and the number of Victoria Crosses awarded and unfortunately it seems that both are increasing again all these years after the war to end all wars.


For those that are interested, like me, the Australian Battlefields of World War I – France take a look at my site