Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, 1915, sent to capture Gallipoli to secure a sea route to the Black Sea. Gallipoli was in what was still the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. The Gallipoli campaign lasted eight months, 44,000 British, French, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops died. It is clear, even from this little map, that the terrain is a rocky spine on one side of the gap, and more mountains on the other, a terrible military disadvantage for anyone landing on the shoreline.
Gallipoli is to Australia as Vimy is to Canada: the alleged formation of a national consciousness separate from Britain. In both the casualties were enormous, and to only minor military advantage in the whole war. It was, I suppose, the moment of postcolonial consciousness, subsequently more fierce in Australia than Canada.
Is it fair, through the longer lens of subsequent history and analysis, to think it was such a waste? Here, we are lectured that to question anything military means we are not supporting our troops, or our countries – does this divide have anything to do with national consciousness? Protest defines a people, complicity rarely does – the Arab Spring has taught us that much.
The phrase 'Never again' comes around every November, and must be reverberating though Australia and New Zealand today. What is it we are remembering on November 11th, or 25th of April, or July 1st, the day of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel which annhilated the Newfoundland Regiment? There is always more war, more matériel, more lost generations.