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Forces War Records Blog

ANZAC SOLDIERS HIDDEN IN THE SHADOW OF THE WWI CENTENARY

Blogger: GemSen In the latest debate involving the First World War Centenary, Britain has been accused of ignoring the role of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) in the important impending commemorations.
The ANZAC legend is one of courage, ingenuity and endurance and is understandably very important to Australia and New Zealand. What’s a little more baffling though, is why they currently appear to have been forgotten in Britain's centenary plans. Australia will be commemorating the significant ANZAC anniversary in 2015, but concerns have been raised about the missing recognition by Britain of the 62,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died during the Great War. According to News.com.au, British government sources have confirmed internal briefings on commemorations have not mentioned Australia or New Zealand. In the article British author and commentator Murray Rowlands said it was a disgrace Australian and New Zealanders were being ignored. “There is nothing in (British Prime Minister) David Cameron's program of commemoration that mentions these countries,” he told News.com.au. “The British pretty much lost the war in July 1918, they were in retreat and it was the Australians and New Zealanders who got put into the gap… they were the ones that held up the Germans in places like Hamel (Somme, northern France), with the Americans too but basically the well-trained Australians, pretty battle hardened by then, who stopped the Germans. “If they had got to Amiens the game would have been gone because that was where the British communication system were. That needs recognition.” Despite this, however, it has been suggested that efforts by the New Commonwealth nations like West Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are being pushed, reported the Daily Mail. Apparently, the reason for this is to promote 'community cohesion' and link younger generations of ethnic Britons to the war fought by their forefathers. It is also seen as high-level support for old colonies like India, which is experiencing a booming economy, reported the newspaper. A government insider told News.com.au: "It's basically to remind Britons the First World War wasn't just soldiers from here fighting in France and Belgium but involved people from Lagos, Kingston and the Punjab," a government insider said. The British Department For Culture, Media and Sport, tasked with First World War anniversary events, confirmed there were no plans to have any specific events recognising Australia's contribution to the British Empire's cause. "I don't think there is anything specific at this stage for individual countries,' a spokeswoman said. 'It is obviously a four-year program so there may well be specific things as we go along but nothing specific at this stage." What do you think? Are you annoyed that the ANZAC soldiers appear to have been left out? Was there an ANZAC soldier in your family? Australia's Department of Veterans Affairs and the Australian High Commission in London are planning a series of Australian-specific events in the UK this year and next year, the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. April 25th 1915 The First World War Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought at Gallipoli on the dawn of April 25th 1915 as part of an allied expedition that aimed to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula. The army met strong resistance from the Ottoman Army and the campaign became a stalemate, which dragged on for a grueling eight months. The Ottoman Casualties were 174,828 with 56,643 dead, the Allied casualties were 187,409 with 56,707 dead. Among the Allied forces, Australia had 28,150 casualties with 8,709 dead and New Zealand had 7,473 casualties with 2,721 dead. The men who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula created a legend and Gallipoli has special importance to many Australians. It also created a sense of national identity as it was the first international incident where the Australians took part as Australians, after establishment of self governed British colony Federation of Australia in 1901. There is already great public interest in attending the centenary services and on ANZAC day on April 25th, every year, Australia and New Zealand commemorate those who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. It is believed that Australia was bitterly divided about going to war and the Australian Government was twice denied the right to recruit for World War I. More than 416,000 Australian men out of the total population of 5 million were enlisted for going to WWI battlefields. 331,000 were deployed and 60,000 of which were killed and 155,000 wounded with tens of thousands with crippling afflictions. This influenced Australia’s opinions on war. Source: Daily Mail and news.com.au. Want to know more about ANZAC? Search the ‘Memorial Register, Gallipoli 16-20, War Graves of The British Commonwealth 1914-1918, Cemeteries in Anzac and Gallipoli’, via the Forces War records site or read the ‘War Dairy and Account of Pt. Gordon James Alford 10th Battalion A.I.F’ who was a soldier during the Gallipoli campaign with an account of the landing. Did any of your Australian or New Zealand relatives serve and fight during war or conflict? Do you have any missing pieces to your military genealogy research? Search our military records and historic document library – you never know what you might discover…
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