Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Monday, April 25, 2005
Remembering Gallipoli. To commemorate ANZAC Day Tim Blair has a selection of links about the doomed Gallipoli landings. Of the Australian troops who were there, Joseph Stratford was probably the first to die. Alex Campbell was the last to live.

For all the time I have spent arguing that the "lions led by donkeys" myth of the First World War is a myth, and a harmful one, I still feel about the First World War much as Sean Gabb does. He wrote:

I began this jotting with the intention of saying something smart and clever about today's anniversary. But there is nothing smart and clever to be said. When I contemplate the events that unrolled between the 28th June and the 4th August 1914, I become a child again, in the audience of a pantomime. I want to cry out to the person on stage - "Look behind you!" "Don't go there!", "He's coming for you!". But there is nobody out there to listen.
None of their descendants can truly project themselves into the minds of that generation, who, as they went to war, thanked God that they would have the chance to fight. No one now, however patriotic, however convinced of the rightness and necessity of a war, can say dulce et decorum est pro patria mori without uncertainty, irony, regret.

It was not sweet to die. It remains fitting to remember the dead.

To that end I am going to post again something I first posted in 2002, an excerpt taken from the website:

I wasn't aware that there were British soldiers at Gallipoli. Who were they?

One of the saddest aspects of the history of the Gallipoli campaign is that, in Australia and New Zealand, there is almost never any acknowledgement made that other forces were present at Gallipoli other than the Anzacs, and that, in Britain, most people seem neither to know nor care about the part played by their own soldiers there. At the same time, though, it has also to be pointed out that the Anzac sector was separated from the British / French sector at Cape Helles (the southern tip of the peninsula), by some 13 miles, and that the two were never linked up, so in effect they can be treated as different battlefields completely.

That said, it must also be realised that some Anzac units served at Helles, and some British units served at Anzac. Later, in August, after the new landings at Suvla Bay, to the north of Anzac, the Anzac and Suvla (British) areas were linked, and there was a little more contact between the two.

Who were they? There were too many different units for me to answer that here.

I'll work on putting up a list of all units present on a separate page (not possible yet because of memory restrictions on my site). Suffice to say that in total (including the Anzacs and Indians and French), approximately half a million men were sent to Gallipoli on the allied side, with total casualties (killed, wounded, sick and prisoners), of about 252,000 men.

Australians and New Zealanders pride themselves on giving everyone a 'fair go', but when it comes to Gallipoli, there has been so much misinformation taught that many people seem unwilling to even admit that other forces were present and become almost resentful when this is pointed out. The fact that others were there does not detract from what the Anzacs did, but it must be acknowledged that they also performed amazing acts of bravery, suffered and died, and some in greater numbers than even the Anzacs, and that therefore they also deserve a 'fair go'.

Allow me to repeat, too, what I said in that earlier post: "I don't think it diminishes the Anzacs' memory in any way to point this out. Their dauntless courage was acknowledged by all who saw it." The Australians and New Zealanders rightly honour their Gallipoli dead. So do the Turks, who fought bravely on the other side. Why do we in Britain forget?