1) You may click the following link to watch a 3 minute video message from RUAP National President Daniel about ANZAC Day.
2) For your interest and understanding, we’re forwarding you the following article from Jill Curry (a staff member), titled ‘ANZAC GALLIPOLI CENTENARY 2015’.
In 1914, Britain and France were allied with Russia. Russia wanted control of the strategic narrow waters of the Dardenelles, Sea of Marmara and Istanbul, which were controlled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Britain and France therefore went to war at Gallipoli on the Western shores of Turkey to defeat the Ottomans. The first ANZACs landed at night in the wrong place and were greeted at dawn with steep cliffs instead of a beach with a gentle slope a few kilometres to the north. For eight months they battled atrocious conditions before finally retreating before the cold winter really set in, after losing 7,594 men. This was an horrendous loss to a young nation and has been etched on the hearts of Australians ever since. Nevertheless, it has been said that it was in the trenches that Australia became a nation as men from different states became joined in heart instead of just federated on paper. Through hardship their character was forged and their bravery won the respect of the world, while their loved ones back home were unified behind a common cause.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Turkey, another massacre was taking place. On the eastern border lay Armenia, the first country in the world to officially declare itself Christian – in the early 4th century. By the 15th century it was completely absorbed into the Ottoman Empire. As with all non-Muslims living under Muslim rule, they were treated as dhimmis, paying extra taxes and denied the rights of their Muslim superiors. On April 24, 1915, the day before the ANZACs arrived, 250 Armenian intellectuals were killed by the Ottomans and this began a genocide that pales the losses at Gallipoli. An estimated 1 to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were mass killed, sent on death marches through the burning desert with no food or water, deprived of houses and property, used as medical experiments, children gassed, women raped or sold as slaves, and some were crucified, drowned or burnt alive. A few escaped, came to Jerusalem and settled into what is now the Armenian quarter. A population of 2 million in the Ottoman Empire was reduced to 388,000 by 1922.
After the defeat at Gallipoli, the ANZACs were taken to Egypt and deployed to defend the Suez canal, which was a vital link for Britain to her colonies in the Asian region. The Light Horse troops proved much better in the desert conditions than the British (unacquainted with deserts!) and were put at the frontline of the Sinai campaign which pushed the Ottoman Turks back from the south. The significant breakthrough came with a surprise attack by the Allied forces on Beersheba in Southern Palestine. On 31st October, 1917, the British troops pounded the Turkish strongholds around Beersheba and the New Zealanders took the only high point – the ancient Tel Sheba, and routed the enemy from there. The battle had to be won that day or the thirsty soldiers and horses would have to retreat into the desert with no water.
Around 4 pm, with precious little daylight left, the Australian Light Horse troops (4th and 12th divisions) spearheaded one of the most strategic and decisive allied victories of the First World War. In one heart-stopping hour the Australian Lighthorsemen, under the command of Lt Gen Harry Chauvel, backed up by the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade and the British Yeomanry Brigade, captured Beersheba, by charging the 6km across the wadi in full fire of the Turkish artillery. They captured city with its life-giving ancient wells almost intact.
The battle was as significant a victory as Gallipoli was a failure. What had not been achieved at Gallipoli was now accomplished at Beersheba. We lost a battle (several actually) but we won the war! This historic day ultimately led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as from here on the Turks and Germans were on the retreat. The capture of Beersheba changed the course of Middle East history, paving the way for the liberation of Judea and Samaria, the biblically-prophesied return of the Jewish people to their land and the creation of the present day nations of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
War is never nice, but evil will triumph when good men do nothing (to quote Edmund Burke). The enemy is already in our midst. Will the ANZACs arise and again show the courage of our forefathers to fight for the freedoms we value? Or will Australians wait till we are under subjugation and suffer a massacre of like the Armenians before we wake up? The battle must be fought sooner or later – either by us now or will we leave a harder battle to our children?
On ANZAC Day we remember those who were willing to take on the enemy and those who paid the ultimate price. May we rediscover the courage to stand and fight, the mateship to love and support each other, the perseverance to last the distance and the willingness to sacrifice that made the ANZACs a legend and a left a legacy that lies deep in the Australian psyche.