(If you made it through the entire video without shedding a tear you must be made of sterner stuff than i)
April 25 – ANZAC Day
“Waltzing Matilda” is a very famous Australian folk song and a “Matilda” was the name given to the pack that Australian farm workers carried on their backs.
To “Waltz Matilda” meant to carry your pack of belongings through the bush.
The song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle is about Australian and New Zealand soldiers ( Army Corps – ANZAC’s) who fought against Turkish troops and died in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I.
On 25 April 1915, the Anzacs as part of the British Contingent under their operational command landed at a difficult and desolate spot on the Gallipoli peninsula and the Turks appeared to be ready for them, a defeat was inevitable, The Gallipoli campaign was a debacle, Military censorship prevented the true story being told but a young Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch (father of Australian newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch) smuggled the story about the scale of the Dardanelles disaster back to the Australian Prime Minister who sent it on to the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who was no friend of the British military establishment. It led directly to the dismissal of the British commander, Sir Ian Hamilton who never again was to hold a senior military position.A British Royal Commission into Gallipoli concluded that from the outset the risk of failure outweighed Its chances of success. The British had contributed 468,000 in the battle for Gallipoli with 33,512 killed. 7,636 missing and 78,000 wounded.
The ANZACs lost 8,000 men in Gallipoli and a further 18,000 were wounded. The remaining ANZACs went on to serve with distinction in Palestine and on the western front in France.
Anzac Day in Australia commemorates the sacrifice made by many ( it was all in vain – a retreat had to be ordered and nothing was ‘gained’ – other than a somehwat curious National Pride in a terrible defeat, at the way our troops performed in the face of what was basically unavoidable death and maiming – and all for a ‘foreign’ Power. It is considered one of Australia’s defining traditions, possibly surpassing The Boston Tea Party as an act that helped form and define a nation.
Anyone who listens to the whole song can get a feeling for the futility of war, and the fact that today many Australians are in a somewhat similar situation in Afghanistan, and formely in Iraq, almost 100 years on and nothing seems to have been learned from the Sacrifices so many made – in many cases quite pointlessly, or not for the point they were led to believe was the case – says a lot about those who lead us, then and today.