By Murray Bourne, 25 Apr 2006

25th April is the day that Australians and New Zealanders commemorate a military loss - the debacle of the First World War battle at Gallipoli. The ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) were doing what they often have to do - fight other people's wars in other people's countries.

On 25th April 1915, the British in their wisdom, decided that the Aussies and the Kiwis should take on the Turks on the strategic Gallipoli Peninsula. It was a bloodbath, with the Turks (in a much better position high up on the cliffs overlooking the beach) spraying the allied troops with machine gun fire.

Anyway, involvement in the War cemented national identity for both Australia and New Zealand. Up to that point, most people thought of themselves as part of the British Empire before they regarded themselves as Australians or New Zealanders.

Each year, war veterans march in organised street parades. My father would join them, decked out in his WW2 medals.

One of the significant ANZAC Days for me was the visit to Kranji War Cemetery (here in Singapore) for the dawn service. The choir of the Australian school sings and wreaths are laid.

Ahh... the folly of man that results in war as a constant.

Footnote: The returning Vietnam veterans in the mid-1970s were not invited to join the ANZAC Day parades. This always seemed very cruel to me. Many of them had been concsripted into an unpopular war that had very little public support in Australia. Many didn't want to go but they did. Most of them arrived back in the middle of the night away from publicity - no ticker-tape parade for them. It has only been in recent times that the Vietnam vets have been recognised on ANZAC Day.

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