The Gallipoli Association was formed in 1969 by veterans of the campaign. Although none of these veterans survives today, many association members had fathers, grandfathers and other relatives who served at Gallipoli. The Gallipoli association is a London based organization which aims to commemorate and inform present and future generations of the sacrifice made by the men of Gallipoli.
Membership is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about the campaign and HRH Prince Phillip is highly supportive of the association.
Mentions of Gallipoli invariably stir feelings of national pride in Australians. Each Anzac Day growing numbers of us attend dawn services and marches in cities and towns across Australia. The event is also commemorated in a number of overseas countries, including Britain.
Yet in the years immediately after the Vietnam War, that controversial ten-year conflict that so divided the nation, serious doubt existed as to whether Anzac Day would be commemorated at all in the years to come. It had largely become a marginalised event, seen by many people as merely an excuse for old soldiers to drink too much and to reminisce. The notion that war should be commemorated or ‘glorified’ in any way was completely unacceptable to some. Many people believed Anzac Day eventually would die out with the men and women who had served in two World Wars.
In the past two decades the resurgence of interest in Anzac Day has been remarkable. Each year bigger crowds are recorded across the nation. The day of Australia’s Federation (1 January 1901) and even Australia Day (26 January 1788) are now seen as secondary events to Anzac Day (25 April 1915), the day many believe our true independence as a nation was forged on the beaches and slopes of Anzac Cove.
Anzac Day in London attracts thousands of young Australians. Many begin their working day by turning out in the cold twilight for the Dawn Service at Hyde Park Corner. Later, some move on to the wreath laying service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall and the Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey.
It is a common and erroneous belief among Australians that the Gallipoli Campaign involved ANZAC troops only. They are often surprised to learn that in addition to 59,000 ANZACs, 420,000 British and 80,000 French troops were also committed. As a prelude to the beach landings, a large naval operation was also mounted along the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea. On land the allied task force attacked various points along the Gallipoli Peninsula, most famously at Anzac Cove, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay, where casualties were horrendous on both sides. The opposing Turkish force, with some Germans, was estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000.
For the Allies, the Gallipoli Campaign ended in failure. Its architect, Winston Churchill, had to quit cabinet over the disaster and wait for the events of World War II to redeem himself. Nevertheless, the evacuation from Gallipoli in early 1916 was a masterly operation and stands as one of the great feats of military history. Today, in Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, Gallipoli represents a proud and defining moment in the history of each nation.
The Gallipoli Association is a truly international body with a growing Australian membership. At present it has two Australians serving on its committee. It offers bursaries to students who wish to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula, arranges tours, and is continually looking at ways to inform and educate people about the Gallipoli Campaign. It welcomes enquiries and new members and publishes an informative journal,The Gallipolean, four times a year.
For further details go to www.gallipoli-association.org. The organization is currently looking for a volunteer webmaster. If you’re interested please contact Simon Kleinig at: [email protected]