Gallipoli and the Anzac Legend

Essay by MitchandoA, May 2006

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The landing at Gallipoli was necessary because of the Navy's failure to push on through the Dardanelles Straits and take out Constantinople due to sea mines. The original campaign had been planned so that once the Straits were taken, Allied ships could assist Russia, bolstering the Eastern Front and knocking Turkey out of the war. However after the loss of one third of its fleet due to mines and mortar damage from the forts the Allied navy sailed out and the army was sent in to take possession of Constantinople.

On the 25th April 1915, just over a month after the navy had left, the first wave of Australians landed at Ari Burnu (renamed Anzac Cove shortly after). Their aim was to secure the Third ridge to enable the following men to land quickly and efficiently. Instead of finding the flat beach they expected it was rugged terrain with steep cliffs all under constant barrages of enemy fire and shelling.

Around 20,000 soldiers landed on the beach over the next two days and managed to take and hold the beach. However they faced a well organised, well armed, large Turkish force determined to defend their country. It was led by Mustafa Kemal, who later became Atatürk, the leader of modern Turkey.

By the end of the first day the Anzacs had gained a few hundred metres but the defences were too strong for the Anzacs and they were unable to push any further onwards. An order was given to dig in and now the campaign had come to a stalemate just like on the Western Front.

In the ensuing battles the Anzac Legend would be born and it was instrumental in helping shape Australia as the nation that it is today. The Australian soldier had gained a reputation for ingenuity...