Anzac Day, on April 25 each year, is an Australian and New Zealand national day of remembrance* for Australians and New Zealanders at home and around the world.
The day marks the anniversary of the first big military action by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in World War I on April 25, 1915.
WHAT DOES THE WORD ANZAC MEAN?
ANZAC is the acronym* formed from the first letters of the words Australian and New Zealand Army Corps*.
It was first written as “A & NZ Army Corps”, when Australian and New Zealand soldiers were grouped together in Egypt waiting to go to Gallipoli, in Turkey, to start fighting. The soldiers who fought at Gallipoli became known as ANZACs.
From 1917, soldiers who had fought at Gallipoli wore an “A” badge on their uniform.
When referring to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, it’s written as ANZAC (in capital letters), and mostly as Anzac (in lower case letters) for other things such as Anzac Day or Anzac biscuits.
WHERE IS GALLIPOLI? WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
Gallipoli is a narrow peninsula* of land in modern-day Turkey.
When Britain went to war in 1914, Australia went to war to support Britain as an ally*.
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were part of the effort to seize the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
The aim was to move across the land and eventually capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany.
The Australian and New Zealand soldiers first landed on the beaches of Gallipoli at dawn on April 25, 1915, meeting strong resistance from the Ottoman Turkish soldiers. The fighting dragged on for eight months before the allies were evacuated from the peninsula. Many soldiers of all nationalities involved in the fighting were killed at Gallipoli, including more than 8000 Australians. Many more were injured and all had endured terrible conditions including extreme heat, strong wind, rain and snow, loud noises from weapons and the grief* of having people being hurt or dying around them.
WHY DO WE STILL REMEMBER GALLIPOLI?
We remember Gallipoli to remember and honour the soldiers who fought and died or were injured there.
Although the goal of seizing Gallipoli and advancing towards Constantinople wasn’t achieved, the toughness and the bravery of the ANZACs became well known in Australia and New Zealand and around the world and helped give rise to what has become known as the “Anzac legend”.
Many people believe that the Anzac legend – sometimes talked about as meaning being hard working, tough, brave and fair and looking after your mates – is either something that defines us today, or that it is something we should remember, celebrate and aspire to.