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Does ANZAC ancestry enhance one's status in Australian society?


old man emu
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In Australia people who can trace their ancestry back to the First Fleet claim a special status. These ancestors were the foundation stock of the Europeanisation of Australia. Does the same apply to the descendants of those who stormed ashore at ANZAC Cove on the 25th April 1915, who were the foundation stock of Australia's military heritage?

 

Last ANZAC Day, I was showing my grandson the military service medals awarded to his great-great grandfather (WWl), and great grandfather (WWll). Records show that G-GG took part in the landings on the morning of the 25th April. That means that he was part of that foundation stock. We hold the remembrance of that baptism of fire much higher than the arrival of the First Fleet, so shouldn't the descendants of those who took part in the landings of the 25th April also claim a special status in Australian society?

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Good luck with that, OME. The revisionists of history will soon start to rewrite the ANZAC landing, as the time when the Aussies invaded a peaceful country and killed many of their happy inhabitants, in a dreadful act of invasive butchery.

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Well, the revisionists should check their facts first before commencing the rewrite.

 

At the time, the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the First World War, as a result of a complex web of secret alliances between the European powers, can be characterised as part of the European origins of the war. The Ottoman army (just under three million conscripts of Turkish, Arab, Kurdish and other backgrounds) fought the British and French in Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and Persia (today’s Iran). The Ottoman Empire was allied to the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. The Ottoman Empire's entry into World War I began when two recently purchased ships of its navy, still manned by their German crews and commanded by their German admiral, carried out the Black Sea Raid, a surprise attack against Russian ports, on 29 October 1914. Russia replied by declaring war on 1 November 1914 and Russia's allies, Britain and France, then declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 5 November 1914.

 

So, to say that the attacks on its territory were attacks against a peaceful country is to be sprouting balderdash.

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so shouldn't the descendants of those who took part in the landings of the 25th April also claim a special status in Australian society?

Short answer, no for both groups. As Marty said, be proud of your ancestors, but there's no kudos to be had from hanging onto their shirt tails. That was them, not us. Descendants can claim all the status they like; I doubt too many would grant it to them.

Edited by Guest
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Gallipoli, France, Belgium or wherever I think its all the same in 1915-18.

 

In the context of what I was saying, France and Belgium are not the same as Gallipoli, and arriving at ANZAC Cove later in 1915 is not the same in my context as landing on the 25th April. There has to be a "First". We all have a good idea about the First Fleet, but what do you know of the Second Fleet if you are not into the history of the later 18th Century. If a person can trace their ancestry back to the First Fleet, then the bask in the sunshine of that historical event. In the same way, if an ancestor was at ANZAC Cove, then their descendants share that involvement.

 

I will not denigrate the Australian Forces on the Western Front. According to them after being involved on the Western Front. Gallipoli was a picnic. I have a great-uncle laying somewhere in a field near Strazeele, France, location unknown.

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The Gallipoli landings in the overall context of the war, while admittedly being our first big engagement in WW1, was just one event. Probably the biggest story is of the tens of thousands who died in the mud in France. Post war, the anniversary of the landings has been adopted as a focal point for commemoration of all losses and sacrifices in that war and those following. For that reason, it's called Anzac Day and not Gallipoli Day. I don't think people who served there have any greater status than those who served in France and the Middle East.

 

Probably the same reasoning behind changing the name of Long Tan Day to Vietnam Veterans Day. When it was Long Tan Day, it probably didn't sit too well with some who fought at Coral and Balmoral and others.

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I have a great-uncle laying somewhere in a field near Strazeele, France, location unknown.

You never know, ome, he may still be found one day. They're still digging and searching over there. My Great Uncle was found in 1927, so only nine years after he went missing at Mouquet Farm.

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Reading through the WW1 ANZAC soldiers writings, it is very obvious they all thought they were setting off on an adventurous "lark", to teach those uppity Germans and Turks a bit of a lesson.

Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that their "lark" would turn into some of the worst war conditions imaginable - and certainly not imaginable in their minds, when they set off.

 

WW1 started off with late 1800's technology, training, tactics, and lines of command - but the technology, the tactics, and the command styles altered so fast, that by July 1917, at the Battle of Hamel, General Sir John Monash produced what was essentially modern warfare, combining all the elements of military offence - air, artillery, tanks and troops, welded into a smoothly-operating whole. Vastly improved communications, insisted on by Monash, aided the entire operation.

 

Not a single one of the men joining up in WW1 had any idea of the "industrialised warfare" the Germans had developed - and the "seige warfare" that developed from that rapid increase in technology.

They all thought it was going to be just a bit of a shooting match with rifles, and had no idea of the massive amounts of high-powered long-range artillery, the Germans had developed and produced - not only for themselves, but for the countries allied with Germany.

 

But the over-riding character features of all the WW1 Diggers, was their inventiveness, their initiative, their stoicism in the face of idiotic command decisions and outdated tactics, their humanity, and their courage.

The ANZAC's at Gallipoli have been singled out for glory, but in military operation terms, the whole action at Gallipoli was simple idiocy, further bungled by incompetence on the part of the British officers - and the losses in men are unpardonable.

 

But the losses of just over 8700 Diggers (and 19,400 wounded) at Gallipoli over 10 months and 3 weeks, pales into insignificance when compared to the Australian losses in France in 1916 and 1917 - which amounted to well over 50,000 deaths and 150,000 casualties. Plus, the Germans were a more formidable foe than the Turks - because the Germans were not only ruthless, they were excellent at setting booby-traps, and tunnelling - which the Turks were not inclined to do.

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There's no doubt that the initial numbers who volunteered up to May 1915 were filled with jingoistic naivete, but as reports of deaths and casualties were released, the jingoistic naivete seems to have been replaced by a willingness to go to the aid of their fellows, not necessarily for "King and Country". From that the "ANZAC Spirit" grew to become what we laud in Australians - unreserved willingness to help your neighbour in time of trouble.

 

In both campaigns, the Allied forces were sent to attack defending forces, who had set themselves up in positions which gave them visual command of the ground in front of them. Because the Ottomans were responding to an unexpected invasion, they did not have the ability to prepare defensive positions to the degree the Germans did on the Western Front. They had to make do with the topography as it exists. Also, it was nearly impossible for the Ottomans and the invading forces to dig tunnels due to the geology of the site.

 

The Germans, on the other hand, initially were able to hold a front line while their engineers prepared better defensive positions behind the front line. Once completed, the front line troops could be withdrawn to these better positions from which the Germans defended what was, to them' the new border of Germany. The geology helped because there was a deep soil level over chalk which made digging down possible.

 

Wherever they were sent to fight, the Australians did so with gusto. Perhaps it was because they were volunteers and also because they refused to be cowered by their officers. The Australian officers in the field tended to be men who had gained their rank on merit not by genetics. Many were the captains of sporting teams, or even leaders of Pushes in the cities, or Trade Union leaders. Even men like Monash were made commanders because they had experience in overseeing non-military activities. (Monash was an engineer. He introduced reinforced concrete to Australia and was part of the formation of the Monier Pipe Company.)

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