Anzac legend born from battle

ANSWERING THE CALL TO SERVE: The initial 'Anzacs' were volunteers from the First Australian Imperial Force. The campaign lasted eight-and-a-half months.
ANSWERING THE CALL TO SERVE: The initial 'Anzacs' were volunteers from the First Australian Imperial Force. The campaign lasted eight-and-a-half months.

Anzac Day salutes the courage and valour of those soldiers who fought at Gallipoli.

They may have suffered defeat, however, their courage spawned a legend which is observed to this day.

Those initial "Anzacs" were volunteers from the First Australian Imperial Force.

They had just completed training in Egypt when they were called to serve alongside British and French troops sailing up the Dardanelles Strait.

Their ultimate aim was to capture Gallipoli Peninsula, then under German and Ottoman control, through the sea route of the strait, a vital stretch of water connecting the Black Sea with the Aegean.

Those original diggers must have been frightened and confused when they disembarked on the thin strip of beach known as Gaba Tepe on April 25, 1915.

It was still dark and chilly as the boats disgorged about 20,000 Australian soldiers just before dawn on the Gallipoli peninsula. By nightfall, 747 of those soldiers would lie dead on the beach or close by in the surrounding steep cliffs.

Their commanding officers had under-estimated the determination of the enemy Turks, under the command of Mustafa Kemal Atatrk. But the Australians and New Zealanders fought on.

These "worthy sons of the Empire" fought a piecemeal battle under mixed orders.

The Turks, perched atop the surrounding hills, took pot-shots at the troops.

Despite the seeming impossibility of Winston Churchill's Dardanelles war plan, fighting on the peninsula dragged on for another eight-and-a-half months.

REFLECTION: In the 1920s Anzac Day became a day of commemoration and for returned soldiers reunions. The first dawn service was held as a mass in Albany in 1918.

REFLECTION: In the 1920s Anzac Day became a day of commemoration and for returned soldiers reunions. The first dawn service was held as a mass in Albany in 1918.

In that time, 44,070 Allied troops were killed, 8709 of whom were Australians.

The first Anzac Day was held on April 25, 1916, when every state held ceremonies to honour the fallen.

Anzac Day provides the nation to pause and reflect on that horrific death toll from 1915.