There’s a myth that the Anzacs were salt of the earth middle Australians lead to disaster at Gallipoli by effete English officers who sat in boats offshore quaffing champagne.
It fits later ideas we’ve decided to have about ourselves but there are two major problems with it.
The first, and apparently a not very important one, is that it isn’t true.
The second is that it traduces the memory of a Canberran. So we’re going to rectify it, as far as we can, here.
The first commander of the Australian Imperial Force was one Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges KCB CMG who landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 at 7.30am.
He had previously founded the Royal Military College here in Canberra, and worshipped at St John’s Church in Reid.
He was wounded by a Turkish sniper on 15 May 1915 and died of his wounds on 18 May 1915.
Items to consider as to his importance at the time:
- — King George V rushed to ensure Throsby Bridges knighthood took place before death.
— His horse Sandy was the only Australian horse brought home from the war.
— Throsby Bridges was, until the repatriation of the Unknown Soldier in the 1990’s, the only dead soldier from the First World War to be returned to Australia.
— His grave at Duntroon is the only structure in Canberra designed by Walter Burley Griffin (There’s also a magnificent plaque to his memory at the front of the Northern wall of St John’s Church in Reid).
If you’re interested there’s a solid biography at Digger History.