"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"

Anzac Cove - Gallipoli

It's Anzac Day in Australia. (25th April) The ANZACs were the combined forces of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day in Australia is when Australians remember those who have fought in war. The ANZAC legend started during WW1 when Australia and New Zealand combined their forces under British Command to attack the Turks at Gallipoli. Unfortunately, there was a right royal stuff-up and the ANZACs landed at Suvla Bay and were faced with a small beach landing and thousands of well-armed Turks manning the cliff faces above the beach. The ANZACS were blown to hell - "almost blew us right back to Australia."

From the words which accompany this video:

On 25 April 1915, the Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) landed at a difficult and desolate spot on the Gallipoli peninsula and the Turks appeared to be ready for them, a defeat was inevitable, Gallipoli was the plan thought up by Winston Churchill to end the war early by creating a new war front that the Central Powers could not cope with. The Gallipoli campaign was a debacle, Military censorship prevented the true story being told but a young Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch (father of Australian newspaper tycoon Rupert Murdoch) smuggled the story about the scale of the Dardanelles disaster back to the Australian Prime Minister who sent it on to the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who was no friend of the British military establishment. It led directly to the dismissal of the British commander, Sir Ian Hamilton who never again was to hold a senior military position. The British Government ordered an evacuation. By day, the ANZACs kept up their attacks with more ANZACs observed to be landing - by night the force was withdrawn, broken only by sporadic rifle and gunfire. On 20 December 1915, the Anzac retreat was complete.

A British Royal Commission into Gallipoli concluded that from the outset the risk of failure outweighed Its chances of success. The British had contributed 468,000 in the battle for Gallipoli with 33,512 killed. 7,636 missing and 78,000 wounded.The ANZACs lost 8,000 men in Gallipoli and a further 18,000 were wounded. Australia had a population of five million - 330,000 served in the war, 59,000 were killed. New Zealand with a population of one million lost 18,000 men out of 110,000 and had 55000 wounded.

This video is for my grandfather who was one of those who landed at Gallipoli in 1915. The song "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" always makes me shed a tear or two around this time of year. So many brave, innocent, young men were led "like lambs to the slaughter."

"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"

This video extract is from the movie "Gallipoli" which was made in 1981 by Peter Weir. It shows the common occurrence in the Gallipoli Campaign where the young ANZACS were ordered out of their trenches at the bottom of the hill to push forward over the dead bodies of those who had gone before, to try and gain distance up the cliffs. The turks, sitting at the top, picked them off like flies with machine gun fire. They knew they ran towards their certain death.

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Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for this interesting and informative post. I wasn't aware of Anzac Day nor did I know that Churchill was so involved with Galipoli.

I hope your Anzac day is as good as it can possibly be.

25/4/07 1:30 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

TY greg

Churchill may be the darling of the conservatives, but those who fought at Gallipoli have no love for him. The plan was a complete ballsup from start to finish.

The Australians and New Zealanders were treated like meat for the meat grinder. (The ANZACS were under the military authority of the British Government)

Both Winston Churchill and the First Sea Lord John Fisher resigned as a result of the defeat, amid mutual recriminations. If Churchill hadn't resigned, he would probably been forced to forfeit his commission anyway.

So Churchill doesn't get a heads-up from me.

25/4/07 1:56 pm  
Blogger Radix2 said...

Lest we forget.

25/4/07 9:55 pm  
Blogger Plonka said...

Lest we forget.

25/4/07 11:09 pm  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Australia and New Zealand must be the only countries in the world who celebrate one of the greatest military failures ever.

Lest we forget.

26/4/07 12:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did your Grandfather return from Gallipoli?

Churchill volunteered and was sent to the Western front shortly after the debacle, if I remember correctly. He was seeking expiation I suppose. It was a black spot on his reputation that was never cleared.

Probably the biggest cause of the ultimate failure was that the Brit Navy could not spare the kind of supporting force really needed for the scale of the operation. They were so busy blockading the German Navy that the kind of massed artillery support that was later available at Normandy was simply not allowed. The Brits arrogantly assumed the Turks would not be able to stand and the German Lyman Sanders made sure they payed dearly for the mistake.

The Anzac honor & courage displayed at Gallipoli is on a par with anything in military history including Thermopylae.

26/4/07 3:59 am  
Blogger Lexcen said...

Great post. I'm glad that you mentioned Churchill's folly.

26/4/07 7:25 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


Yes, he came back. One of the lucky ones.

26/4/07 9:18 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


Yeah, me too.

26/4/07 10:21 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


26/4/07 12:24 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Cool, it works. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

26/4/07 12:24 pm  
Blogger DiscordianStooge said...

I cry when I hear that song, and I don't even really know the story of Gallipoli.

And sometimes I wish I were British, just so could become a "First Sea Lord."

26/4/07 8:46 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


Yeah, weird name isn't it- First Sea Lord.

RE: The song.

Yup, it makes me cry too. It is that kind of song.

26/4/07 10:58 pm  
Blogger Dikkii said...

It's a damn fine song.

Incidentally, now you've sussed out HTML tags, come over to my blog where I forgot to tell you something about FeedBurner's widget that you were asking me about.

You may need to know it.

27/4/07 12:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twenty-five years ago, at one of my Irish neighbor's huge parties, their twelve year old daughter was coaxed into singing this song. Her voice was pure and strong, with a guitar playing softly behind her. She stood tall in that suddenly silent crowd, and even the young ones settled down to listen. It raises goose flesh on my arms just thinking about it all these years later. I thought it was the saddest song I'd ever heard. I never knew what it was about, til your post. Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm happy your gran da made it home.

27/4/07 2:36 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


TY - Yes, it certainly is a moving song.

27/4/07 11:16 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


Ok, thanks.

I will get this next post up and be over.

27/4/07 11:16 am  
Blogger Blueberry said...

Thank for the post and the videos. I cry every time I see that movie, especially knowing that it's based on real events, but it's been many years since I've seen it. Glad your grandfather made it back. Love the song too.

28/4/07 4:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Beep. And thanks for the clip from Gallipoli. I think it's the best anti-war movie ever made. I loved the whole film and all the Australian scenes but the last one is sooooo powerful. The first time I saw it I was stunned.I also like it because of the shared colonial experience, the fact that our soldiers like yours were so determined not to let their young nations down. And of course because the Brits were the villains!!! :) It's a great Aussie story and it still serves today as a useful counterpoint to all those who would dress up war in the trappings of glory...when of course it's just murder and hell. The greatest failure of humanity.
A few summers ago I came across some bound volumes of the London Illustrated News from the First World War. And I was fascinated to read the account of the night time withdrawal from Gallipoli. The headline read "The Dardanelles Adventure Is Over." They made it sound like a victory, and there was no mention of all the dead and wounded. Some adventure....

28/4/07 9:24 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

TY blueberry

It is a powerful anti-war film which doesn't diminsh in any way the courage of those young men.

In fact, I think it manages to display the futility of war whilst holding up the men involved as examples of courage, determination and strength.

Just boys they were. So sad. Boys on both sides when you think about it.

28/4/07 10:08 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


RE: "the brits as the villians"

We didn't take well to authority outside of ourselves that is for sure.

The british military authority had a habit of using "the colonials" for the most dangerous and life threatening operations.

Did they feel like they were being used as cannon fodder? Probably.

64% of aussies who served were either wounded or killed.
66% of kiwis who served were wounded or killed.

Lest we forget.

28/4/07 10:36 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pogues do a wonderful version of the song, with some righteous anger added to the tragedy.

28/4/07 2:13 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


Yes, It was a toss up whether to use the Pogues version or not. It's pretty full on.

28/4/07 9:19 pm  
Blogger breakerslion said...

Lest we forget; indeed. One war later, despite Churchill's own words of warning, US forces waded into the exact same kind of balls-up at Anzio. I am chilled at the strange similarity of the word "Anzio" to "ANZAC". I'll be back to watch the videos, I'm not in the right head space just now. Contemplating such a sad betrayal and waste of young life always makes me blubber.

29/4/07 3:17 am  
Blogger breakerslion said...

That should have read, "One world war later...." I also realized that my last comment might make me sound like someone unfamiliar with the story of Gallipoli. I am far less provincial than most of my countrymen. The Turks were only part of the brutal reality. There was also unmerciful heat, crowded, unsanitary conditions, festering wounds, and lack of good drinking water to try and kill one if the bullets failed. The whole thing became a working model of insanity: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I would not be surprised to learn that the survivors had their life span shortened by the experience.

29/4/07 3:32 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...


What has been interesting about the Gallipoli Campaign, the Turks and the ANZACS is the level of friendship which has ebdured between the turks and the australians.

Many australians and turks go to Gallipoli each year as part of a rememberance service where they try to honour all those young men who lost their lives.

"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives;
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehemets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are at peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well." -Ataturk

This quote made by him in 1934 commemorates the losses on both sides. It is inscribed on the memorial at ANZAC Cove.

29/4/07 6:07 pm  

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