ANZAC is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the East Mediterranean early on the morning of 25 April 1915 during the First World War (1914-1918).

Every year Australia has ANZAC day to remember those who have fallen in battle. Often, in the case of Australia, these are in battles far off shore that had little direct threat to Australia's shores. Red poppies that grew wild on the fields European battefields are a symbol of ANZAC day and rememberance day.

The description which follows is taken from the book GALLIPOLI written by John Masefield and first published in September 1916.

"Those who wish to imagine the scene must think of twenty miles of any rough and steep sea coast known to them, picturing it as roadless, waterless, much broken with gullies, covered with scrub, sandy, loose, and difficult to walk on, and without more than two miles of accessible landing throughout its length. Let them picture this familiar twenty miles as dominated at intervals by three hills bigger than the hills about them, the north hill a peak, the centre a ridge or plateau, and the south a lump.

Then let them imagine the hills entrenched, the landing mined, the beaches tangled with barbed wire, ranged by howitzers and swept by machine guns, and themselves three thousand miles from home, going out before dawn with rifles, packs, and water-bottles, to pass the mines under shell fire, cut through the wire under machine-gun fire, clamber up the hills under the fire of all arms by the glare of shell-bursts, in the withering and crashing tumult of modern war, and then to dig themselves in, on a waterless and burning hill while a more numerous enemy charge them with the bayonet.

And let them imagine themselves enduring this night after night, day after day, without rest or solace, nor respite from the peril of death, seeing their friends killed, and their position imperilled, getting their food, their munitions, even their drink, from the jaws of death, and their breath from the taint of death, and their brief sleep upon the dust of death.

Let them imagine themselves driven mad by heat and toil and thirst by day, shaken by frost at midnight, weakened by disease and broken by pestilence, yet rising on the word with a shout and going forward to die in exultation in a cause foredoomed and almost hopeless.

Only then will they begin, even dimly, to understand what our seizing and holding of the landings meant."

In November 1917 AIF orders authorized the wearing of a small badge in the form of the letter 'A' on unit colour patches to denote that the wearer had taken part in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign. In the year 2000, Australians travelled to Gallipoli to commemorate ANZAC day in a combined ceremony with Turkey and other nations. The dawn ceremony with the last post was somewhat moving.

Only two Australian Gallipoli veterans are still alive and they are both over 100 years old. These are:

  • Mr Alec Campbell
  • Mr Roy Longmore
  • Mr Walter Parker died this year and was described as stoic soldier. He was the youngest of eight children, an apprentice commercial art printer, when he enlisted. In an interview published a few years ago in The Age, Mr Parker recalled venturing through muddy trenches and walking through the valley better known to the soldiers as "shrapnel valley". Mr Parker had also served honorably in France, serving on the Somme and at Pozieres, and was hit by shrapnel which severed a tendon and ruled him out for further campaigns. After returning to Australia, Mr Parker took up farming and married Amy McPhail, with whom he lived happily for 52 years. They had two children, Gwen, and a son, Earle, who was killed at 20 while serving in World War II.

    Unfortunately Roy Longmore has passed away leaving one Gallipoli veteran. He died on June 21 at a nursing home in Melbourne. He was 107.

    On the 16th of May, 2002, Australia's last Anzac - Alec Campbell - passed away, at the age of 103.

    He had lied about his age, so he could join the war effort. At the age of 16, was carrying water from the beaches of Gallipoli, to the trenches on the front line. After two months, he was struck down with illness, brought on by the terrible conditions soldiers endured at the time.

    Alec Campbell's death is not simply about the death of a single man. As the last living man to have set foot upon the foreign shores, where so many men would lose their lives, Alec Campbell was the last living link to a revered chapter in Australia's history. The Anzac story spawned the most important day on the Australian calendar - Anzac Day captures a spirit, and kindles emotions, like no other day. For many years, the number of Gallipoli veterans has been dwindling. Next year will be the first time that no original Anzacs will mark the day.

    In recognition of Alec Campbell's passing, the nation will pause at 11am, Friday the 24th of May, 2002 at 11am - the day he is laid to rest. This minute's silence is far more than a mark of respect for a single man. On this day, the nation will reflect on all the Anzacs who have died, whether in the waves of Anzac Cove, or in the years since. Flags will fly at half-mast, and Australia will stop, to remember that while Alec Campbell may have been the last man surviving, the last man to truly know the horrors of the battles fought on those shores - the nation will never forget the sacrifice made. Nor will the Anzac's importance ever be diminished.

    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.

    The Ode - Taken from For The Fallen - Laurence Binyon

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