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So you think you know about Gallipoli? The Second International Gallipoli Symposium will teach you more

By johnboy 3 April 2009 47

Here’s a fun announcement out of ANU in the lead-up to Anzac Day.

The Second International Gallipoli Symposium is taking place at ANU’s Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies from 15 to 16 April 2009.

    “For many people, Gallipoli exists in a kind of time bubble that popped into being in 1915, a chamber of national memories which we open up once a year on Anzac Day,” argues historian Dr Peter Londey from the School of Humanities at ANU. “We want to show that rather than being a ‘silent wilderness’ on which a brief WWI campaign was fought, the peninsula has been a site of numerous settlements, population movements and wars for thousands of years.”…

    The research team will dig deep into the Bronze Age, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and contemporary periods, looking at the history of human settlement, the military history of the region, and the layering of memories as the many visitors to the peninsula have reacted to the landscape and its stories.

    “In ancient Greek times, for example, there were several expeditions from Athens and Sparta to help defend the Greek settlements on the Gallipoli peninsula from Thracian incursions,” Dr Londey said. “The Greeks even built a major defensive wall across the top of the peninsula – the remains of which we’ll be looking for.”

Because when Anzac Day rolls around who can know too much about Gallipoli?

UPDATED: Not to be outdone the War Memorial has announced they’re having lectures this Sunday 5 April:

    This Sunday, three historians from the Australian War Memorial will present fascinating talks on the ANZAC experience at Gallipoli.

    As ANZAC Day approaches, accounts of Gallipoli will focus on courage, endurance, humour in adversity and, above all, mateship.

    Yet, Gallipoli has a dark side. As well as being poorly led, the Australians soldiers were poorly trained and suffered needless casualties as a result. Improvement at all levels was slow in coming. When the last great attempt to win the campaign was made in August, many of the earlier problems arose again.

    This presentation will bring a sense of perspective and objectivity to a subject that has become cloaked in popular myths and misconceptions. It promises to be stimulating, thought-provoking and controversial.

2pm-4pm in the BAE Systems Theatre. Admission Free.


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47 Responses to
So you think you know about Gallipoli? The Second International Gallipoli Symposium will teach you more
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Whatsup 10:46 am 04 Apr 09

My family members didn’t serve in WWI or WW2. Both my grandfathers had jobs that required them to “support the war effort” here in Australia.

That said I have attended many Anzac Day Marches and the sound of the Last Post brings all the hair on my neck to a stand and a shiver runs down my spine. The story of the Anzac will touch people in different ways and prompt various responses, you don’t need a blood relative to feel it.

Deadmandrinking 10:44 am 04 Apr 09

Cannon Fodder day.

We should remember Gallipoli for the sake of remembering what a terrible thing war is. Too many young men died for no reason that day. I hardly see how it could inspire patriotism. I think it should inspire people to put diplomacy well before military action.

BerraBoy68 10:37 am 04 Apr 09

Sorry JB, (the last 2 para’s of my post are, I believe are on topic).

Does anybody know of any turkish accounts of the Gallipoli campaign that have been translated and published?

From all accounts many Turks respected Australian soldiers and on one occassion called out pleading to the Australians not to attack any more. They recognised the futility of the charges.

I think Ataturk’s speech about the Campaign (and inscribed on the Turkish memorial on ANZAC Parade) is one of the finest speeches I’ve come across.

Thumper 10:24 am 04 Apr 09

Nah, JB, I wasn’t. i was just pointing out that my experience and involvement in ANZAC Day is anything but bogan nationalistic misguided patriotism.

johnboy 10:13 am 04 Apr 09

Let’s not get into willy waving on familial military service.

I assure you mine’s just as big as yours.

BerraBoy68 10:08 am 04 Apr 09

Thumper said :

I’m ex RAInf and current RAAFAR. My dad is a Vietnam Vet. A lot of my mates and my dad’s mates have active service in many conflicts. My partner’s grandfather was a Changi POW.

As such I certainly don’t live ANZAC Day vicariously through some sort of tenuous link to the day.

Just my small story..

Good on you Thumper! As we’ve previously discussed I’m ex-RAN and my Father in Law did 27yrs in RAInf, including a tour in Vietnam (1RAR 1965-66). Gillson and Parker whose bodies were recently recovered in Vietnam were his mates and leaving them there left its mark on him (the change in him when they were found and brought home was visible). On top of that my older brother died while serving in the British Army, so I can relate to the loss of family to military service. ANZAC Day also means a lot to us.

As I said earlier, not all allied soldiers were the saints we often make them out to be. I recall a conversation with an old WWII soldier back in the 1980’s and he told me “don’t ever think only the enemy were guilty of war crimes… it only seems that way as the the winning side gets to prosecute the losers”.

For a different perspective on Gallipoli, and an explanation on why the Australian’s were told to “Dig, Dig, Dig until they are safe” I recommend reading ‘Stokers Submarine’. If the AE2 hadn’t broke through the turkish maritime defences and reported it was ‘running amok’ there is every chance the Australians would have been told to withdraw early on day 1.

Postalgeek 9:49 am 04 Apr 09

I should clarify a point – I’m not saying that everyone who observes ANZAC day is living vicariously through it. my comments are aimed at those, whether ‘bogans’ or the media, who appropriate ‘Gallipoli’ to promote a modern jingoism.

Thumper 12:08 am 04 Apr 09

I’m ex RAInf and current RAAFAR. My dad is a Vietnam Vet. A lot of my mates and my dad’s mates have active service in many conflicts. My partner’s grandfather was a Changi POW.

As such I certainly don’t live ANZAC Day vicariously through some sort of tenuous link to the day.

Just my small story..

Postalgeek 11:57 pm 03 Apr 09

The thought of nationalism, largely responsible for the ugliest atrocities and genocides of the 20th century, being attached to a day of remembrance makes me wince. The Turks, British and even the French lost many more troops than us at Gallipoli. Overtly waving Australian flags about the place is, at best, inappropriate, and at worst disrespectful to the war dead.

I’ve been reading letters written by my grandfather from the trenches in Gallipoli. Gossip goes back and forth, but the one thing they don’t really discuss is ‘Australia’ and ‘doing it for Australia’. If anything, he discusses the disappointing response by Australia, the flagging recruiting drives, and the general reluctance to ‘do all that can be done’.

The appropriation of ‘Gallipoli’ for nationalism reminds me those people who live vicariously through sport; I support doers ergo I’m a doer.

What is it with some people’s imagination that they believe there’s a ‘uniquely’ Australian stoicism which they share. My impression from the letters is that a lot of AIF volunteers would’ve snorted at that myth. Be proud by all means, but of the people, not the flag.

Just my 2 cents…

Nemo 9:23 pm 03 Apr 09

I recently read the book ‘Somme Mud’ – highly recommend it.

farq 9:03 pm 03 Apr 09

I like this topic 🙂

Mr Evil 5:26 pm 03 Apr 09

A couple of things annoy me about the whole ANZAC Day Gallipoli circus:

– Many Australian and New Zealand ‘pilgrims’ to Gallipoli appear to really have no idea what actually occurred there in 1915.

– Australia and New Zealand weren’t the only ones fighting on the Allied side there – a fact that seems lost on many. There are plenty of young men from Britain, France, India and Africa (amongst others) taking up cemetery space in the region.

Anyway, ANZAC losses at Gallipoli pale in comparison to the number of young Australians and New Zealanders killed and wounded on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918. In fact, many Gallipoli veterans almost considered that Gallipoli had been a picnic compared to the slaughter and suffering they experienced on the Western Front.

Gallipoli might have been the birth of the ANZAC legend, but the Western front is were the ANZACs really showed what they were capable of – when lead by competent leaders and given a decent chance to succeed and make the most of their fighting spirit.

Yep, they liked a drink, disliked the British class system, hated military discipline and were larrikins – but when the crunch came they were among some of the best troops the British Empire had at the time.

peterh 5:06 pm 03 Apr 09

johnboy said :

Yes Peter, you know more about the behaviour of Australian soldiers than the Vice Chief of General Staff in 1949 referring to what “past history has taught us”.

Go back to your myths if you need them to feel good about yourself.

Have a look at what New Zealand and US forces thought about their Australian counterparts too.

You can admire the way they fought on the Western Front, and at Alamein and Tobruk, without being blind to the reality.

The mythmaking you’re party to, that simply being Australian makes for better soldiers, rather than training, equipment, tactics, strategy, and logistics is extremely dangerous to future soldiers.

Jb, i agree, that there were instances in both world wars of disgraceful behaviour by australian troops. I was told of the looting and burning of cairo after the return of the australian troops from gallipoli.

I don’t believe being australian makes our troops better, but it does contribute to the determination of the few to overcome great odds. The lessons learnt by our military leaders through conflicts ensured that the future control of behaviour by australian troops was dealt with quickly – they ensured that the new regimen was discipline, not by british leaders, but by australians. This was the initial problem that the british encountered with the australian troops, assuming that they would be best led by the british.

chewy14 4:21 pm 03 Apr 09

This makes me think even higher of these Aussie soldiers.

BerraBoy68 4:15 pm 03 Apr 09

As someone who studied military history at univestity my I venture an opion… There were as many reasons for joining up as there were soldiers. Some joined for Queen and country, soe for adventure, some because their mates did, some to avenge deaths of siblings easlier in war etc..

We like to think of them all as brave, and many were. Sadly they were also human with human frailties and some decided the war simply wasn’t for them and subsequently died or were imprisoned for their actions.

Drinking? again take your pick some didn’t, most did. Temperance was big around teh tiem iof WWI and some only started driking after expereincing ‘the horrors of war’, who wouldn’t. As for whoring.. red blooded males away from home for a very long time – so why not. As long as the troop didn’t frequent the officers ‘brothels’ it wasn’t a major deal.

johnboy 3:42 pm 03 Apr 09

Yes Peter, you know more about the behaviour of Australian soldiers than the Vice Chief of General Staff in 1949 referring to what “past history has taught us”.

Go back to your myths if you need them to feel good about yourself.

Have a look at what New Zealand and US forces thought about their Australian counterparts too.

You can admire the way they fought on the Western Front, and at Alamein and Tobruk, without being blind to the reality.

The mythmaking you’re party to, that simply being Australian makes for better soldiers, rather than training, equipment, tactics, strategy, and logistics is extremely dangerous to future soldiers.

neanderthalsis 3:41 pm 03 Apr 09

johnboy said :

Here’s an authoritative source on Australian fears about Australian soldiers near booze.

We all know that the average digger likes a drink or two, and generally it doesn’t matter what it is, from fine wine through to medicinal alcohol mixed with lemon essence for a touch of flavour (it puts you to sleep well before you get drunk in case you were wondering).

And the defence of Australia was far more complex that the defeat of the Japanese Imperial Navy in in Midway and the Coral Sea (where there was a significant Australian surface force and the Surface taskforce was commanded by an Australian Admiral). It was essentially the battles of the Coral Sea, Milne Bay and the defence of the Kokoda track that kept the Japanese off Australian soil.

Saying we’d all be speaking Japanese if the USN hadn’t saved us sells short the significant contributions of the Australian, British and Dutch navies in the pacific and Indian oceans.

But anyways, back to the Dardenelles, home to many wars throughout history from the Seige of Troy, to the venetian – Ottoman wars in the 17th century to the turko-Russo wars in the 19th century. It was of great historic significance long before a bunch of young Australian, New Zealand, British, Canadian, Senegalese, Indian and French troops went ashore in 1915.

peterh 3:35 pm 03 Apr 09

farnarkler said :

The dawn service at ANZAC cove polices itself. The idiots are soon weeded out and offered the choice of keeping their mouths shut or being given a slap. When the smart arses see the size of some of the islanders who are there for the service they behave themselves.

i had heard that. though i had heard that it was a diggers delegation…

Clown Killer 3:34 pm 03 Apr 09

Excellent to hear that farnarkler.

Granny 3:33 pm 03 Apr 09

I love ugg boots!

: )

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