This post is part of my attempt to catch up on a few events that I have not had the time to write about. (I am currently finishing up the blogpost regarding graduation day).
So, for now, let’s go back in time and start with ANZAC Day: The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. ANZAC Day itself is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. It is observed on the 25th of April and was originally held to to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC Day Day is one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand, it is quite a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but also making reference to both countries in its name.
So, let’s have a little excursion to history: in 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The aim of this expedition was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire at that time. The Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal(later known as Atatürk, the “father of Turks”). What had been planned as a move to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships.
The Gallipoli campaign is considered to be a major loss of the Allied forces and one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation’s history: a final surge in the defense of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled, so to speak. Indeed, it was one of the most important events in the history of Turkey, as it formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who became famous as a commander at Gallipoli and is regarded as a national hero in Turkey.
Selwyn, our art teacher, is from New Zealand and together with his wife Polly he arranged for an ANZAC Day meeting with all Kiwis (students from New Zealand), Australians and Turkish students. Considering the history behind ANZAC Day and the difference with which it is observed in our countries, it was a wonderful and enlightening opportunity to get a different perspective on the event and to realize the striking bias in our education when it comes to History. We talked about how the Gallipoli Campaign was taught in Australia, New Zealand and Turkey and the differences were striking. We went to a Kiwi place in Sai Kung which served absolutely delicious food and cheese, and spent a lovely evening talking about ANZAC Day, photography, life at Li Po Chun and many other interesting things. Selwyn and Polly introduced us to a few Kiwi traditions regarding ANZAC Day and gave us very interesting perspectives and facts about the Gallipoli Campaign.