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ANZAC Day remembering Gallipoli


war-illustratedApril 25th is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, it is the anniversary of the start of the battle of Gallipoli in which French and British Empire forces (led by mainly by troops of Australia and New Zealand) attacked the Ottoman capital of Constantinople.  The campaign was the first major battle undertaken in WWI by the Australians and New Zealanders, and is often considered a turning point where national consciousness was sparked in these nations (very similar to the story of Vimy Ridge for us Canadians).

Today Anzac Day commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations,” and while Armistice Day (November 11th) is still recognized as a Commonwealth memorial day, ANZAC day holds a special meaning for these nations.

It’s hard to imagine life in the trenches, just waiting for the whistle that commanded you to hoist up over the top, I can’t even fathom what would be going through my mind or how I would be able to keep myself even remotely sane knowing that moment could come any day or any hour.  Soldiers also had very little they could do to distract themselves while waiting for this to happen other than sit, try and sleep or read; and apparently that is what many of them did.

As for what they read, Perhaps the safest answer is anything they could get their hands on. Most soldiers traveled light to the front and then craved books and magazines once they were embroiled in the stalemate. They would read anything that could take their thoughts off the mud, the rats, the shelling, the smell, the snipers and the prospect of going over the top and charging machine gun emplacements.

If you are interested, here is a list of literature that may have been popular on both sides of no-mans land.

As an aside, I apologize i f this post may seem a little ill-timed to Australians and New Zealanders, I happen to live on the exact wrong side of the international date line when it comes to timely recognizing your national events, so while the majority of you are about to wake up on the morning of April 26 I am most assuredly living the morning of the 25th, and absolutely thinking of you all at this time.

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