April 25, 1915

Attack Near ANZAC Cove
ANZAC Day - 25 April - is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day. When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world.

In early 1915, following a strategy championed by Winston Churchill, an allied expedition set out to capture Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula adjacent to the Dardanelles Straits. Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire -- then allied to Germany -- was to be captured, opening the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. After a failed naval assault, plans were made to land 70,000 troops near Gallipoli. The Turkish commander [a German general] concluded an attack was imminent and positioned his 84,000 troops along the coast where he expected the landings.

Headland Held by Turks
The attack that began on the 25th April, 1915 established two beachheads which Turkish opposition kept pinned to the shore. Another major landing took place on 6th August. However, attempts to sweep across the peninsula all ended in failure. By the end of August the Allies had lost over 40,000 men and the allied commander, supported by Churchill, asked for 95,000 more men. But, British War Minister Horatio Kitchener was unwilling to send more troops to the area and eventually concluded the entire force, then totaling 105,000 men, should be evacuated. The operation began at Sulva Bay on December 7th. The last of the men left Cape Helles on January 9th, 1916.

About 480,000 Allied troops took part in the Gallipoli campaign. The British had 205,000 casualties (43,000 killed). There were more than 33,600 ANZAC losses (over one-third killed) and 47,000 French casualties (5,000 killed). Turkish casualties are estimated at 250,000 (65,000 killed). The ANZAC Day Tradition

News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war. Australians recognize 25 April as an occasion of national commemoration. Commemorative services are held at dawn, the time of the original landing, across the nation. Later in the day ex-servicemen and women meet and join in marches through the country's major cities and many smaller population centers.

The text for this article was found at the Australian War Memorial website. The photos are courtesy of Mike Iavarone's Trenches on the Web. Mike features a large amount of material on the Diggers, to visit his articles click on the icon below:

For more Legends and Traditions of the
Great War return to the
Contents Page

For Great War Society
Membership Information

Click on Icon

For further information on the events of 1914-1918 visit the homepage of
The Great War Society

Additions and comments on these pages may be directed to: Michael E. Hanlon ( regarding content, or to Mike Iavarone ( regarding form and function.
Original artwork & copy; © 1998-2001, TGWS.