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

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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Thumper 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 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 Nemo 9:23 pm 03 Apr 09

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

farq farq 9:03 pm 03 Apr 09

I like this topic 🙂

Mr Evil 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 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 chewy14 4:21 pm 03 Apr 09

This makes me think even higher of these Aussie soldiers.

BerraBoy68 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 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 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 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 Clown Killer 3:34 pm 03 Apr 09

Excellent to hear that farnarkler.

Granny Granny 3:33 pm 03 Apr 09

I love ugg boots!

: )

farnarkler farnarkler 3:27 pm 03 Apr 09

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.

peterh peterh 3:26 pm 03 Apr 09

johnboy said :

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

“Further problems and disagreement between the State and Commonwealth authorities arose over the serious issue of supplying beer to the troops. Due to transport problems arising from the strike, beer had almost run out in hotels in the Hunter Valley. The army proposed to ship beer in from interstate, a move opposed by the NSW Minister for Justice on the ground that there should be no discrimination between the troops and the local inhabitants. The NSW Minister relented in the face of vehement argument from the Vice Chief of General Staff:

If beer is not to be provided in the camps we will be faced with precisely the same situation that past history has taught us to expect in that some troops will break camp and go into towns in search of liquor. The Hunter River Valley is notorious for cheap bad wines and the effect of these on the troops may well lead to disturbances which it is highly desirable to avoid.”

the document that you refer to speaks of the 1949 miners strike. The behaviour of the australian troops in peace time bears no resemblance to their behaviour during the first world war, or the second.

There were incidences in both wars of whoring and drunkeness, but, as there were hefty penalties imposed on australian soldiers by both australian CO’s and the british CO’s, the instances were mainly reserved to specific areas, and were dealt with harshly.

The problematic issues that were raised by the british over the behaviour of the australian soldiers during both wars were based on the apparent lack of discipline.

The Australian officers recognised the need for their soldiers to let off steam from time to time, however they also had rules which were adhered to.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 3:22 pm 03 Apr 09

It was cold though – so I did regret not bringing my ugg boots!

Granny Granny 3:09 pm 03 Apr 09

I do understand your disappointment, Clown Killer, but you of all people should know that being on a beach at Gallipoli at dawn does not necessarily make you a bogan.

johnboy johnboy 3:02 pm 03 Apr 09

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

“Further problems and disagreement between the State and Commonwealth authorities arose over the serious issue of supplying beer to the troops. Due to transport problems arising from the strike, beer had almost run out in hotels in the Hunter Valley. The army proposed to ship beer in from interstate, a move opposed by the NSW Minister for Justice on the ground that there should be no discrimination between the troops and the local inhabitants. The NSW Minister relented in the face of vehement argument from the Vice Chief of General Staff:

    If beer is not to be provided in the camps we will be faced with precisely the same situation that past history has taught us to expect in that some troops will break camp and go into towns in search of liquor. The Hunter River Valley is notorious for cheap bad wines and the effect of these on the troops may well lead to disturbances which it is highly desirable to avoid.”

johnboy johnboy 2:58 pm 03 Apr 09

Of course they weren’t all Peter.

But it was a notable problem of our forces. As in forces from other countries found it remarkable.

Heck when Chifley was sending the army down the coal mines to break the miners strike the Generals were extremely concerned about putting their soldiers anywhere near the wine cellars of the Hunter Valley.

Try reading some non-Australian accounts of Australian involvement to come to a balanced perspective.

They were brave and they often fought like tigers, but we’re not talking about an army of saints either.

peterh peterh 2:53 pm 03 Apr 09

johnboy said :

We didn’t “need some help”

We were “completely reliant”.

The fight in Papua New Guinea was for the right of white Australians to sun themselves on PNG beaches without being troubled by natives and for our mineral companies to rape their land.

The defence of Australia was conducted at sea almost (note – almost) entirely by non-Australian forces.

I’ve been to more than my share of Dawn Services, but let’s not get carried away.

The whoring drunken farmboys (and good luck to them) desperate to escape their homes, even if it meant signing up to fight wars on the other side of the world, certainly wouldn’t have appreciated the over-reverence now attached by some.

jb, speaking as someone who has attended many dawn services,I think that this is probably the worst thing that you have said, since i have posted on this site. Personal shots at me I can handle, but please consider that there were many young men who joined up for their country, because their country asked them to.

They weren’t all farmboys, but they did make up the greatest percentage of youth ever to engage in conflict in australia’s history. The stocks of men able to fight in WWII were far less than that in the great war. Still, the men that returned and were able re-enlisted.

I don’t know where you have drawn the conclusion that they were all whoring and drunken. perhaps you should re-visit the AWM and contemplate what life might have been like if they hadn’t stepped up. I thank those brave souls who fought for us every remembrance day or Anzac day. I remember old friends who have died – men that fought in the conflicts after WWII as australian soldiers.

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