When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, Australians enlisted in what they expected to be a relatively short war.
Australia’s earliest achievements in the war included the capture of German New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of the Bismarck Archipelago by the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in October 1914.
Most of the volunteers who were accepted into the army were not sent to Europe at first but to Egypt, so that they could fight against the Turkish threat to British interest in the Suez Canal and the Middle East.
Australian and New Zealand soldiers, who formed the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), trained for four months near Cairo, and then departed by ship for the Gallipoli peninsula. They landed at what was later called ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915, setting out to capture the peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea to the allied navies. The objective was to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), as the Empire was an ally of Germany in the war.
The ANZAC force tried to break through Turkish lines but was met with strong resistance. The Turkish defenders also failed to drive the ANZAC off the peninsula, and the campaign resulted in many casualties on both sides, as it lasted for eight months, before the allied forces were evacuated on the 19th and 20th of December 1915. The retreat was considered the most successful operation of the campaign, as the allied troops were able to evacuate with only a few casualties.
Throughout the war, 60,000 Australian men were killed, and over 150,000 were gassed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Over 8,000 Australians lost their lives at Gallipoli, and although their military objectives were not fulfilled, their efforts and sacrifice became a powerful legacy for Australians.
The heroism of those who fought at Gallipoli had a deep influence on the Australian and New Zealand people, strengthening their sense of national identity. The ANZAC became a long-lasting symbol for both nations, inspiring pride and strength to this day.
The 25th of April was officially named Anzac Day in 1916, as a way to commemorate the members of ANZAC force and honour their bravery. The day was marke...