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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ANZAC Day - The Birth of a Nation

ANZAC Day, 25th April, is a day that is very dear to the heart of all Australians. It’s a day when we remember those who have fallen in times of war, in service to their country, its people, and freedom for mankind. (Those who picked themselves up again, dusted themselves off, and continued marching are also remembered.)

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.*

However, ‘ANZAC’ means so much more than that. It embodies what it meant to be a ‘Digger’; a ‘Battler’; a ‘Battling Digger’. ANZAC is the true essence of being an Australian. (The New Zealand aspect of it is – appropriately – forgotten and ignored.)

In the words of the official Gallipoli Campaign historian, C. E. W. Bean, the ANZAC spirit "stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat".

Of course, C. E. W. Bean was a drunkard and a cad.

Where does the term ‘ANZAC’ come from?

Well, I’m glad you asked – although I’m a little startled that you suddenly appeared mid-way through this post to interrupt my train of thought and ask me a question. Still, you’re an incorrigible young fellow or miss, so I’ll indulge ye.

ANZAC Day is held in both Australia and New Zealand on the anniversary of the first major offensive to use ANZAC troops on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.

Now, let’s not get carried away with racism on a day like this. I’m not ‘anti-Turk’. After the Easter Sunday debacle, I want to make this clear straight away. In fact, I adore everything about Turkey and the term ‘Turk’. I love to eat the bird at Christmas time (freshly roasted), and I find great amusement in the character by the same name in Scrubs. As for charming women who live in Melbourne but who once married a Turk and bore forth a delightful package (called a ‘child’) eleven or so years ago, dubbed her ‘Princess’ (or possibly another name in real life), and then began reading this blog (therefore fulfilling her life’s desire), … she is a gem.

Ahem. I digress.

… better than anyone I know.

When World War I began on 4th August 1914 (of course, they didn’t call it ‘World War I’ at the time … although, they did called it ‘The Prequel War’ for a short period), Australia committed 20,000 volunteer troops to the war effort under the control of the British Armed Forces. Those troops were soon on their way to Egypt where a plan was underway at the request of the Russians to neutralise the Turkish war effort and effectively take them out of the war.

The Turks, that is. The Russians weren’t interested in us surprising the Turks and taking the Russians out of the war. That would just have been silly.

At oh, six hundred hours on 25th April 1915, the First Expeditionary Forces of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, now known as ANZAC Cove, to an unexpected welcome.

And not the sort of ‘party pies and sausage rolls, streamers and balloons, tressle table with butcher’s paper tablecloth, music blaring loudly as the Turks sang “C’mon, Aussie, C’mon”, dancing the two-step’ welcome, either. They had guns (which was considered by the British to be, quote, “fairly poor form”, end-quote)!

The plan was for the ANZACs to attack the Turks across the peninsular, destroying the Turkish defences in the Dardenelles and leaving the channel open for the British to sail into Constantinople and remove Turkey from the war completely. I’m not sure exactly how they planned to do this last part. Maybe they intended to ‘wipe them off the map’, because records show they had an astoundingly large amount of "Easy Off BAM" on board.

However, the British plans had been made based on outdated tourist maps of the area, so instead of landing on open grasslands, the ANZACs found themselves facing rolling hills and steep cliffs covered with prickly bushes – a countryside that was being defended by a very tenacious Turkish Army.

Is that where the term ‘Turkish Delight’ comes from?


How about ‘Tenacious D’?


So anyway, what was initially intended to be a ‘quick and decisive strike’ soon turned into a ‘stalemate’ (which is posh chess-talk for ‘bugger’).

Many Australians died at Gallipoli. Presumably some New Zealanders and British soldiers did as well, but there are no records of this, apart from the official ones. Turkish troops cut a swathe through the Aussies, who dug trenches in the beach and bunked down for the night.

'The night' turned into twenty-three years. Many heroic stories came out about the bravery of Australian soldiers at Gallipoli. There was Simpson and his donkey (whom he did NOT call ‘Homer’), and probably one or two other stories as well.

Thankfully, the ANZACs retreated from the fighting just a few minutes later, having successfully stolen the one document from the Turks that they had sought. And here it is:

Recipe for ANZAC Biscuits


* 1 cup plain flour
* 1 cup rolled oats (regular oatmeal) uncooked
* 1 cup pure cocaine
* 1 cup desiccated coconut
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 tbsp golden syrup (or honey)
* 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 2 tbsp boiling water

ANZAC Biscuits, photo 1.


* Combine the flour (sifted), oats, cocaine, coconut and sugar in a bowl.
* Melt the butter and Golden Syrup (or honey) in a saucepan over a low heat..
* Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and add to the butter and Golden Syrup.
* Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix well.
* Spoon dollops of mixture, about the size of a walnut shell, onto a greased tin leaving as much space again between dollops to allow for spreading.
* Bake in a moderate oven, 180C / 350F, for 15-20 minutes.
* Cool on a wire rack and seal in airtight containers.

ANZAC Biscuits, photo 2.


* Eat them.

ANZAC troops dashing for the cookie jar.
The recipe would be in safe hands by tea time.

Happy ANZAC Day, everyone. I hope I’ve been able to properly educate you on the trials and tribulations of our troops. Enjoy your ANZAC Biscuits accordingly, knowing that so many Aussies died bringing you the recipe. Perhaps enjoy them with a slice of turkey on top, just to show you’re not favouring one nationality over the other.

* Because the word is an acronym, it is incorrect to write it as any of the following: Anzac, anzac, or AnZaC. And when discussing the day, you should also use a capital D, like this: ANZAC Day. Anyone writing it incorrectly can see me after class.



At Thursday, April 26, 2007 3:27:00 pm, Blogger Kris said...

Thanks for the history lesson for this American, who of course never learned this in our history classes in school..because we are ethnocentric retards.

At Friday, April 27, 2007 8:12:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

… but at least you’re not too proud to admit it!

No problem, Kris. And you can rest assured that it is all ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TRUE.


At Friday, April 27, 2007 2:15:00 pm, Blogger Javatari said...

You make learning fun!

So did they save Private Ryan or not?

At Friday, April 27, 2007 4:27:00 pm, Blogger Riss said...

Did you see on the New Inventors program how the Diggers invented a drip system for firing their rifles after they had left the trenches so that the Turkish would still think there were there and randomly firing?

It was described as having two (food?) tins, top one filled with water and had a small hole in the bottom so that water would drip into the lower one. Once the bottom tin was full enough it would pull the trigger and then start refilling with water for the next shot.

It apparently saved many lives because they were able to evacuate without having the enemy forces advance, and because they were randomly firing, it would have been pure dumb luck for anyone to actually be shot.


At Friday, April 27, 2007 8:44:00 pm, Blogger Kris said...

Not even 1% embellished?

At Monday, April 30, 2007 3:13:00 pm, Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

i'm annoyed because i wrote a wonderful comment about this post last week and then something went funny and it was gone into the ether.

somehow now i can't summon the passion again. suffice to say, nice post. anzac day is something i see quite differently now, after being at the dawn ceremony in turkey in 1990, being felt up in a trench by a moustachio'd turk (NOT THE ONE I ENDED UP MARRYING!) and shaking bob and hazel's hands (bob = limp fish) having a child who has in the space of about 3 days said "we won, we won, we won!", this was as we were walking to the anzac march last year (from the persective of her turkish side) and then later, "we shouldn't have been there, in turkey, the british invaded". certainly makes you look at things differently when you have more than one historical perspective in your family.

At Wednesday, May 02, 2007 3:08:00 pm, Blogger actonb said...

Geez your biscuits are expensive to make...

At Monday, May 28, 2007 2:19:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

... they're quite 'more-ish', too.


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