Anzac story

The intriguing story uncovered by Littlehampton’s Wayne Barrie about the brazen Australian capture of Boer soldiers in 1901 is even more remarkable given its links with the modern Anzac legend.
Occurring on the same date (14 years earlier), at precisely the same time and involving Australian troops with a NZ soldier, the story upholds all the qualities we like to associate with our troops – courageous, ingenious, quick thinking, practical, loyal with a hint of recklessness and all bundled up with a healthy dose of larrikinism.
It is a wonderful story we are privileged to learn.
It’s disappointing to realise that many wonderful battleground achievements have been forgotten over the years.
Perhaps other admired Australian qualities – the art of being unassuming and avoiding any hint of boastfulness – is partly to blame for that loss.
Thankfully this tale has a happy ending as there were no casualties.
Few war stories can boast that.
The traditional Anzac horror we remember at dawn today is a case in point.
The slaughter of so many young men on the exposed beaches and among the unforgiving cliffs and gullies of Gallipoli is a sobering lesson on what can happen when war turns nasty.
For every defeat there must be a loss.
There was no glory at Gallipoli – certainly not among the combatants who were forced to eke out an existence in the filthy trenches as the bombs and shells rained down among them.
No, the appropriate recognition was to come later and is a task subsequent generations have taken up with great pride and enthusiasm.
The way this country has turned a humiliating military defeat into a day of national significance is remarkable.
After all, to commemorate a glorious victory might be considered boastful, and who would want that?
Remembering a defeat in such detail is probably the best way following generations can gain a dose of reality and a sense of perspective when it comes to war.
It’s comforting to think the diggers who were left behind at Gallipoli would be proud of what Australia has subsequently made of the whole event.
But was it worth all that pain, loss and suffering? Unfortunately we can’t ask them.

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