25 April 1915: The Day the Anzac Legend Was Born

25 April 1915: The Day the Anzac Legend Was Born

25 April 1915: The Day the Anzac Legend Was Born

25 April 1915: The Day the Anzac Legend Was Born

Synopsis

On the 25th of April 1915 Australian troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now called Anzac Cove. They rushed from the beach up to Plugge's Plateau into Australian military history suffering many casualties on the way. Just after midday troops from New Zealand landed at Gallipoli and together the Australians and New Zealanders created the Anzac legend. It was the events of this first day that set the course of the whole battle leading to the evacuation of the Anzac troops in December 1915. This is the story of that day telling the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish side of what was to become a tragedy for all three countries and an ultimate triumph for Turkey. It concludes with the visit of Charles Bean, the official Australian war correspondent, to the peninsula in 1919 as part of the Australian Historical mission to organise the burial of the dead that had lain exposed to the elements for the last four years, and to the formation of the cemeteries that are today visited by thousands.

Excerpt

This history is focused entirely on what happened during that first Anzac Day. As such, it is a narrative; I am not concerned with a revisionist history or debating the ‘what ifs’. My aim is to tell the story of that first day as it unfolded, from the available official and personal records. Given the inherent bias in surviving documentary records, it should go without saying that this history, like all histories, is biased. We will never know the full story. While this book is written in a narrative style it is important to stress, however, that it is based on documented evidence.

It is also necessary at this early point to explain—defend—‘my’ take on a number of historical points that have been and undoubtedly will continue to be debated by historians and researchers of the Gallipoli Campaign. Without doubt, ‘explaining’ the landing of the covering force at Anzac Cove is always contentious. Many explanations have been debated over the years. Until recently, the two most commonly proposed are the movement of a naval buoy further north by the Turks, and the action of coastal currents, which pushed the landing force further north than intended. Both of these explanations have now been largely rejected. More recently, Denis Winter and others have argued that the landings of the 3rd Brigade at Anzac were intentional rather than an error. I do not find this argument convincing for the following reasons.

If the landings at Anzac Cove were part of the overall plan, why did no one bother to inform the naval and infantry officers and men of the covering force? the record clearly shows that officers and men (including, importantly, naval ratings) all expected to land north of Gaba Tepe, but south of 400 Plateau. Indeed, Sinclair-MacLagan, commander of the 3rd Brigade, was also confused, declaring on the scene (not after the event) that they had landed on the ‘wrong beach’. This required SinclairMacLagan (and James M’Cay, commander of the 2nd Brigade) to completely change the position of battalions in a haphazard fashion. If . . .

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