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ANZAC Day
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Publish-date-icon April 25, 2007
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EPISODE DESCRIPTION

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps so, ANZAC Day, is an Australian and New Zealand celebration. It is not their national day, but it is even more important than that: on 25th April Australians and New Zealanders celebrate their first baptism of fire in the battlefields of Gallipoli, Turkey.

It was the year 1915. The First World War had broken out a year ago and Australia and New Zealand, which were British Dominions, were eager to show their loyalty to the Allied Goverments of Britain, France, Italy and Japan that fought against Germany, Austria, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In the words of Andrew Fisher, the Australian spokesman, they were determined to support Britain to "our last man and our last shilling". This is why they decided to organise a volunteer army for overseas service. The response in both countries exceeded all expectations and in three months they had enlisted and trained 20,000 men in Australia who joined the two brigades formed in New Zealand. On 1st November the combined contingent known as ANZAC sailed from Albany to Egypt, via Suez, to meet the rest of the allied expedition.
The plan was to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied Navies so as to conquer Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. On 25th April they landed at Gallipoli where they met fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. It was a day of chaotic, heroic and bloody fighting in which the ANZAC lost 1,000 men. The campaign lasted for eight months and in December evacuation of the peninsula was ordered. The result of this futile holocaust after eight months was 42,000 deaths out of which 8,587 were Anzacs not to mention the 19,367 wounded in action.

The news of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25th April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.

A. Sanz

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