why is gallipoli important to new zealand
25 April 1915, eight months into the First World War, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. This was Turkish territory that formed part of Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait to the Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the Ottoman capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and, it was hoped, force a Turkish surrender. The Allied forces encountered unexpectedly strong resistance from the Turks, and both sides suffered enormous loss of life. The forces from New Zealand and Australia, fighting as part of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), played an important part in the Gallipoli campaign. At its beginning, people at home greeted with excitement the news that our soldiers were at last fully engaged in the war. New Zealand soldiers distinguished themselves with their courage and skill, establishing an enduring bond with the Australians they fought alongside. The Gallipoli campaign was, however, a costly failure for the Allies, who after nine months abandoned it and evacuated their surviving troops. Approximately a sixth of the New Zealanders taking part had been killed; the communities they came from had counted the cost in the lengthy casualty lists that appeared in their newspapers. And the sacrifice seemed to have been in vain, for the under-resourced and poorly-conducted campaign did not have any significant influence on the outcome of the war.
Although Anzac Day, the anniversary of the first day of conflict, does not mark a military triumph, it does remind us of a very important episode in New Zealand's history. Great suffering was caused to a small country by the loss of so many of its young men. But the Gallipoli campaign showcased attitudes and attributes - bravery, tenacity, practicality, ingenuity, loyalty to King and comrades - that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation, even as it fought unquestioningly on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire. After Gallipoli, New Zealand had a greater confidence in its distinct identity, and a greater pride in the international contribution it could make. And the mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today. This Guide provides a virtual tour of the peninsula. It features maps, images and interactive panoramas along with short histories and information about the battles, and memorials and cemeteries where New Zealanders are named or interred. For nine months in 1915, British and French forces battled the Ottoman Empire - modern Turkey - for control of the Gallipoli peninsula, a small finger of Europe jutting into the Aegean Sea that dominates a strategic waterway, the Dardanelles. By opening the Dardanelles to their fleets, the Allies hoped to threaten the Ottoman capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and knock the Turks out of the war.
Among the British forces were the Anzacs - the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps - who landed on the peninsula on 25 April. The landing, like the Gallipoli campaign itself, was ambitious and ultimately unsuccessful: the peninsula remained in its defenders' hands. The campaign was a costly failure for the Allies: 44,000 British and French soldiers died, including over 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders - roughly one-sixth of those who fought on Gallipoli. Victory came at a high price for the Turks: 87,000 men died in the campaign which became a defining moment in Turkish history. The Gallipoli campaign was a relatively minor part of the First World War (1914-18), but it has great significance for New Zealand's history and it has become an important symbol of its national identity. The campaign was the first time that New Zealand stepped on to the world stage, and the New Zealanders made a name for themselves fighting hard, against the odds, in an inhospitable environment. New Zealand marks the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings each year on Anzac Day - 25 April - remembering not only those who died there, but all who have served the country in times of war. The Gallipoli battlefields are now part of the 33,000 hectare Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park, or the Peace Park.
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