A reference not to the Crimean War event forever remembered due to Alfred Lord Tennyson and his poem of the same name containing the famous lines:
“Half a league, Half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! “Charge for the guns!”
Instead this post is to commemorate a battle that too (amongst many other battalions) involved Light Brigades including ‘The Third’ and ‘The Tenth Light Horse’ all charging towards the guns but this time in a different place with a different foe altogether.
The area around Istanbul looks so tranquil now, I guess that’s true of many battlefields of yore. It’s difficult to picture what took place close to 100 years ago, how different it must have been for those men during those fateful days.
I was firstly aware of the battle that took place not far from where I was mainly I’m sad to say because of the Mel Gibson film of the same name not my extensive interest in world history. It was only having met up with some Aussies in Earl’s Court (or Little Sydney) London many years ago on this day, that I actually realised the significance of the day to them and although (aside from New Zealanders) not as strong a tradition, to all the other nations including my own that too lost men in that battle.
In the same way I can’t fully appreciate the actions of the men and women in the British Armed Forces fighting wars to protect others’ way of life, it is hard for me to exactly appreciate how those brave ANZAC men left their homeland to fight a war thousands of miles away. And all because as part of the British Empire they were thus duty bound to defend it’s shores and hence take up arms against all those who opposed the freedom it promoted.
The Ottoman Army under the command of Atatürk wasn’t the easy pushover Churchill thought it would be – in fact over eight months after the initial landings a tactical withdrawal was ordered with both sides having suffered major casualties in the conflict. Although actually failing in achieving the military objective it was during these months of battle that the ‘Anzac’ legend was born.
Military failure or otherwise, just like soldiers on our own Rememberance Day I believe it is important that those who gave up their lives in defence of the realm deserve to be awarded the highest respect and acknowledgement.
So to all you Antipodeans who had family involved, to all who lost family and friends – not just in that conflict but all those since – I hope your day is very special and you can enjoy with pride the memories of all those brave souls.