History was made in South Vietnam this year when two companies of New
Zealand Infantry combined with two companies of Australian Infantry to form the
first integrated ANZAC Battalion to fight as a unit since 1815.
The word Anzac holds deep significance/ for Australians and New Zealanders. It is
the code word describing the first Australian and New Zealand Army Force —
a formation that covered itself with glory when, at 4:05 a.m. on April 25, 1915, it
stormed ashore at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula and made the first
amphibious assault landing of modern war. Each year both countries observe
April 25th as a day of remembrance not only of the Anzac landing and the men
who died during the nine-month operation in the Dardanelles, but of the soldiers
who have died in every war since.
Gallipoli was much more than just a battle for the two young countries "down
under" — it was the beginning of a military tradition that has lasted to the
present. Australian and New Zealand troops formed a relatively untried force in
the fight against the Kaiser's Germany. Most of the British and French forces
that had borne the brunt of the fighting until 1915 were regulars. The Anzac force
comprised civilian-soldiers, men who were bush clearing and mustering stock
when the call came for volunteers. The misgivings of the British High Command
in committing this unknown factor to battle was understandable — but as it
The men who waded ashore under heavy fire at Anzac Cove were to write a
magnificent chapter in the history books of the world. Something had to be
done to ease, the situation in Europe in that second year of World War I.
The German advance across France had been stopped but the Allies were
bogged down in a network of trenches that stretched from the English Channel
Anzacs go "over the top'* in
photo at right. Troops were
launching an attack against
Turkish positions at Gallipoli
in 1915. Terrain in the battle
was described as
"murderous." The Anzacs
had to advance over
razor-back ridges under
heavy fire. In photo below a
New Zealand soldier leads
an Anzac patrol through a
patch of jungle in South
Vietnam. Again, in the most
recent fighting, the Anzacs
have proved their mettle in
(New Zealand Army Photos)
On the Eastern front the Russians were making no headway against the Austrians and Germans. In fact it was doubtful whether
they could hold out much longer. The Gallipoli expedition, which was inspired largely by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the
Admiralty, was an attempt to break this deadlock. The idea behind the operation was to land a strong force which would fight its
way up through the Dardanelles and take Constantinople, forcing Turkey out of the war and bringing the Balkan States into it —
on the Allied side. Munitions and aid could be sent through the Black Sea to the tottering Russian armies and the eastern front
would once more constitute a threat to the German high command. As it happened, the British lost a half-dozen battleships
trying to force the narrow passage of the Hellespont, and the landing force ran into ferocious resistance from the Turks.
The landings were even bloodier than the Normandy landings in 1944, and the Gallipoli Peninsula was the scene of some of the
most bitter hand- to-hand fighting of the war. The terrain was murderous. The Peninsula is a cluster of razor-back ridges and
deep ravines — today well fertilized with the blood of 150,000 Allied and 251,000 Turkish casualties.
The Anzacs never penetrated more than a few miles inland. In one single attack on Lone Pine Ridge, mounted by Anzac,
British and Indian troops, seven Victoria Crosses, Britain's highest award for valour, were won. In another awe-inspiring battle,
one of the most courageous and gallant of the whole campaign, two companies of New Zealand infantry rushed the summit of
Chunuk Bair the peak which dominated the battlefield, and dug in under heavy fire just below the crest. The "last chance"
Turkish counter attack which came a few weeks later won back the heights but took a ghastly toll in lives. It is estimated that
the Turks lost well over half of the estimated total killed, a conservative 45,000 men.
On Dec. 12, the decision was made to withdraw the force from the Peninsula. The manoeuvre, which was spread over the next
week, was carried out with masterly deception. Under cover of darkness unit after unit quietly left their positions and filed down
the ridges to the assault boats on the beaches. In the vacated trenches rear parties of two or three men ran from rifle to rifle laid
on the parapets, keeping up the appearance of a company in action.
In the small hours of Dec. 20 the last of the rear parties slid down to the beach and boarded the boats for the wailing troopships.
When dawn came, the Turks, realizing they had allowed a withdrawing Army to escape, occupied the empty Anzac positions
and were caught in a hail of shells from British battleships offshore.
The Anzacs went on to fight in France and have fought in every major war since. Australian and New Zealand troops fought in
the second World War, Korea, the Malaysian emergency, in the confrontation with Indonesia and now in South Vietnam. The
new Anzac Battalion has already been bloodied in the recent operation Coburg when they formed a blocking force against
withdrawing Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops who attacked Saigon during the Tet offensive.
(New Zealand Army Information Service)
Pacific Stars & Stripes
Thursday, April 25, 1968
Looking Back On The Glory Of ANZACS
THANK YOU WAYNE
The four pages here were sent to me by Wayne Chester and are here for you to read. These were articles
that featured in the Stars and Stripes while we served in South Vietnam. There are five articles
featured on four pages - this page being the first:
PAGE TWO - PAGE THREE - PAGE FOUR