3063) Mudslinging Operation by Armenian Commenters In Progress At Any Context - Even In Unrelated Ones /One-Sided Thinking On Gallipoli An Injustice

Martin Flanagan, April 24, 2010,
Melbourne Age, Australia

LEGENDS are like earthquakes. They happen. Afterwards, we try to understand the forces that created them. Anzac is an Australian legend that has a roughly analogous place to the Civil War in the American psyche. Both are stories of young nations encountering the horrors of modern warfare for the first time - that is, wars fought with repeating rifles and machineguns and appalling casualty rates. Both conflicts represent massive and unprecedented change. . .

As popular culture, however, what the Civil War has that Anzac doesn't is the view of both sides. In 1983, when his yacht, Australia 2, won the America's Cup, owner Alan Bond acknowledged that at one stage his crew had been losing but added "it was just like Gallipoli, and we won that one".

It would be interesting to know exactly how that comment was received in lounge rooms across Australia. Did it feel "right" to most who heard it? My guess is that it did.

Gallipoli was a military disaster. We should note that in justice to the young men who died there. Do we owe them less than we owe those who die in bushfires like Black Saturday? We should also note it in justice to future generations. The voices that urged Australia into the invasion of Iraq were of the same character as those that propelled Australia to Gallipoli in 1914. In the context of Anzac, we also need to note the extent of the debacle to appreciate the stature of the major Australian characters who emerged from it - like, for example, General Sir John Monash.

The planning at Gallipoli was a farce. Six weeks before the landing, by way of military intelligence, the British officer commanding the operation, General Sir Ian Hamilton, was equipped with two small guidebooks on Turkey and a text book on the Turkish army. Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, an English journalist covering the campaign who correctly foresaw from the outset that it was doomed, said intelligence would be acquired "at the point of a bayonet". And it was.

Monash was an engineer. Born in West Melbourne to Jewish German immigrants, Monash was of the century just beginning, a man who understood steel and concrete and modern automation. His battles were meticulously planned. The British prime minister Lloyd George described Monash "as the most resourceful general in the whole of the British Army". Monash is a giant figure in Australian history.

Propaganda was involved in shaping the popular view of Gallipoli from the start. Take the case of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, the man with the donkey. Within six weeks of his death, he had been conscripted into the propaganda war, a newspaper report describing him as ''a six-foot Australian'' with ''a woman's hands'' who said in a British-Australian accent, ''I'll take this fellow next.''

Simmo was a five-foot-eight Geordie with a stoker's hands who spoke in dialect and had fierce Labor politics. His first biographer, a fan of Churchill and acquaintance of Sir Robert Menzies, stripped him of his politics. There was no mention of boozing or fighting. The real Simmo was left in a grave at Gallipoli.

What the Australians won at Gallipoli was huge respect, including from their enemy. It really is time we started making clear to young Australians that the Anzacs didn't die protecting Australia from being invaded. Rather, we were invading a country on the other side of the world - to wit, Turkey - with whom we had no difference as a people outside the larger politics of the day.

Surely it is time we owed Turkey, and Turkish Australians, that respect. Look at the respect Turkey shows our dead.

I ask this question most seriously. Does any country in the world - other than Turkey - permit a people who tried to invade it to commemorate the fact of that attempted invasion on their shores each year? I know of not a single one. Imagine if the descendants of the Japanese pilots who bombed Darwin held an emotional service beneath the Japanese flag on the shores of Darwin Harbour each year.

My impression is that within Turkey the legend of Anzac got absorbed into the legend of Ataturk, the so-called father of modern Turkey, who, as a young man, championed the Turkish defence at Gallipoli.

It was Ataturk who declared to the mothers of Australia that their sons lay in friendly soil. A group of about 80 Turkish Australians march each year in Melbourne on Anzac Day. Anzac Day would not be the same without them.

Martin Flanagan is a senior writer.


Yes, this most certainly needs to be pointed out as often as possible. It is no reflection on the courage and fighting qualities of ANZAC soldiers that Gallipoli was a poorly planned British 'adventure' of little military importance. What a waste of life for no apparent purpose. As someone who has visited Gallipoli, I can vouch for the reverence in which the Turkish people hold the site and the esteem they hold for Australians and New Zealanders.

dee-em | Brookvale, Sydney - April 24, 2010, 12:08PM

I think you raise a valid point Martin, it is definately food for thought....

Lucy Grundy | Melbourne - April 24, 2010, 12:35PM

At last an article that searches for the truth & not some rose coloured puff piece. As a child of a WW2 serviceman parent who didn't glorify war but knew & was part of horrorble events we were taught that jingoistic and distorted stories would be for the most part attempts to justify the bombast of the story telling glory seekers. Would Simpson Fitzpatrick welcome the attention of backslapping hail fellow well met Colonel Blimps, I think not. The first casualty of war is truth and a publishing industry intent on cashing in will continue to promote the myths as truth. Any life lost in any conflict is one too many. We should treasure their memory for their sacrifice to the folly of their 'betters' .

JohnS | Ryde - April 24, 2010, 12:33PM

There is not one thing that is glorious about war and why we commemorate this crap while we have again invaded two nations who have done us no harm and helped to slaughter a couple of million people is beyond me.

We whine each year "lest we forget" and then wonder who we can bomb next.

And Gallipoli was a total disaster, our soldiers invaded, murdered and slunk out like the cowards they were.

Now we hide in old Taliban forts in Oruzgan and pretend we are helping Afghans while locking up Afghan refugees.

Marilyn - April 24, 2010, 12:57PM

You make a great point about Turkish hospitality Martin, a point we should reflect upon every April 25th.

There are a few points worth considering whenever this type of discussion arises, which is every year.

Gallipoli wasn't a waste of time, poorly executed, you bet but the idea had strategic merit.

If it had been successful, Turkey may have fallen by the end of 1915 early '16 opening up access to Russia and a proper second front (the ANZAC's would probably then have fought along side the Russian's on that Eastern front) WWI may then have ended some time late in 1916, early '17. No Communist Revolution, no cold war and maybe no WWII, Happy Days!

WWI was a global conflict between two superpowers, one of which our federated states had only 14 years earlier been crown colonies of, with that in mind it's easier to see why we became involved. Does anyone seriously think that we would not have?

Lastly as time goes on we seem to less and less remember that their is an NZ in ANZAC. Particularly and in relation to the commentary about Gallipoli.

Homer J | South Yarra - April 24, 2010, 1:02PM

Hi Marilyn still the anti-australian australian I see.

When attempting to view events in history many of the people of today fall into the trap of "Historical fallacy" where the people of the past are judged by today's moral standards, which taken to the extreme leads anyone to decide that anyone mentioned in history is immoral and fails to take into account different social structures, technologies, beliefs, political systems and cultural influences etc of the time. In ignoring history's lessons and denying the limitations of past people we devalue their gains and are doomed to repeat their mistakes. I view it as cultural elitism over the dead through ignorance. Where as those relying on verbal history don't suffer in this way from codification rather they suffer from "cognitive bias" and can tailor the history to match whatever agenda is needed. Of course those social scientists at uni who like to dabble in social engineering wouldn't mention it to the politicians since the regard it as a kind of ethical bracket creep, which is why we will never have aboriginal reconciliation since once it nears it is pushed away again for the political agenda. Thank you Paul Keating for promoting historical fallacy and believing in the idiocy of race memory and so forever denying us reconciliation.

bill | sydney - April 24, 2010, 1:12PM

I respect the decency and respect the Turks pay to their former enemies.

We Australians should overcome our blinkered thinking. We think that our enemies were/are always evil bastards and that we are always right. We think that we are great when we "win" (say "against" Japan) and great when we "lose" (say "against Turkey). Gee ... we are heroes whatever happens. Heads we win. Tails you lose!

Both Sides - April 24, 2010, 1:09PM

A big thankyou is due to Martin Flanagan. I have lived a large part of my life in a non-English speaking country and it is extraordinary how the Anglo Saxons still persist with a goodies and baddies version of historical events. Flanagan is absolutely correct in asking what Australians would think if the Japanese wanted to honour their dead in Darwin. The Anzacs participated in an invasion force that snuck up on the Turks in the middle of the night, invaded their country and tried to kill as many Turkish soldiers as possible. Last year I attended an Anzac Day service at which the enemy at Gallipoli was labelled as "evil." Australia needs to grow up. It does the fallen soldiers on both sides no disrespect to tell the truth. It is really becoming distasteful to observe the indoctrination of the young and how Anzac Day has become a day of uncommonly large profit for television stations and other spruikers of nationalistic propaganda. I recently received a brochure on Anzac Day from a would be politician at the next election. There was not a word about the futility and the tragedy of war. It dealt exclusively with how magnificent the Australian soldiers were - nothing else. It is noble to remember the soldiers who died. But it is just as important to remind ourselves that it is our responsibility to ensure that it never happens again.

Vero | Blue Mountains - April 24, 2010, 1:16PM

Martin- you paint Turkey in a favourable light ( "Surely it is time we owed Turkey, and Turkish Australians, that respect")
You have omitted that in the same year of the Gallipoli landing in 1915, Turkey perpetrated the mass genocide of around 1million Armenians. Atatuerk himself who at the very least particpated if not spearheaded the campaign to eradicate the Armenians.

To this day Turkey refuse to acknowledge their involvement and cut off political and economic ties with other states brave enough to brand them perpetrators in a Genocide.

Perhaps we will show Turkey the respect they deserve when they admit to the atrocities that the world has forgotten.

Amc | East Brighton - April 24, 2010, 1:27PM

Bill in Sydney

Would you like to address the article, or do you prefer to write a generalised sub-standard university thesis about ... what exactly?

Would you like to argue that we weren't an invading force on foreign land? Would you like to argue, ala Bondy, that we won? Would you like to explain the behaviour of some modern Australians who travel to Turkey without a single clue as to what actually happened, and without the slightest sign of respect for the incredible hospitality of the Turks?

Or not.

Bill | Melbourne - April 24, 2010, 1:33PM

I think it was five years ago, on the 90th anniversary, that one of the Turkish delegation at the commemoration said: "This soil is Turkish; thousands of Turkish men died defending it; no Australian will ever come to invade it again..." (paraphrased from memory)
Yes, they truly are a gracious people. Gracious in victory, note--they could easily rub our faces in it, if they chose.
Sensible article.

Chris | Orange - April 24, 2010, 1:32PM

I note that this year's Anzac ads (which are really beer ads), with solo diggers talking about departed mates and looking at an empty chair, use the word "celebrate". Now, that IS sick.

HiLo - April 24, 2010, 1:37PM

As a Turkish Australian, I'd like to thank you for your article. I was born here and have lived here all my life. Strange that I never got the impression that Australians think that they won that war. WWI has very confusing politics to it, which we were taught in early high school, so most will forget.

WWI was a very important part of Australian history because it taught a nation to be independant, and what peace means. Too often thu numbers of Anzac deaths are talked about, but too little the Turkish loss. It was a disaster for Turkey. Every man who could fight, fought for their country. And that was not like Anzacs fighting in Gallipolli for their freedom from Turks who never eyed Australian soil, their country was beeing invaded because they were a German ally, and other countries wanted a piece of that country.

Turkey lost villagers, professors, doctors, teachers, generals, shop oweners, fathers & mothers.. the whole lot. Imagine that. A country stripped of it's right to move forward, to survive. There were a lot of losers, and the only thing that was won, was Turkey kept it's land.

It's a huge offense to claim that Australia, or any other country won that war. One would only hope that people get more educated, even if they mean no harm in their glorified beliefs. The world sees ANZACs as young honest men who fought for something they did not need to. The Australian identity has been shaped from the Anzac legend, as honest, kind hearted people and that is why Turkey continues to share their memory with Australia. Lest we forget.

Dee - April 24, 2010, 1:48PM

Marilyn - every article I have read in The Age about Anzac Day that invites comment has the same message from you...do you actually read these articles or just go straight to the comment section and trot out the same piece again and again?

You are right, there is not one single thing about war that is glorious and it is this message, along with the fact that both sides suffer, that we need to be reminded about - that is the message my children get at school, from us and from their grandparents.

Unfortunately not all the world thinks the same way and however much we wish for world peace, it isn't here yet. At times this means we do get drawn into conflict because a significant number of those who we choose to make our decisions for us find it either politically expedient or honestly believe it is strategically vital to do so.

You come across as someone totally opposed to war and to any memory of it, yet surely the only way we can truly campaign for peace is by understanding just how terrible war is and acknowledging what those people went through, on both sides?

But to brand young men who did not know what they were in for and were thrust into a cesspit of deprivation "cowards" is incorrect - they were truly brave because they overcame their fear again and again to face death, as did their foes. Do you brand those foes cowards as well, for they conducted themselves in the same way our young men did.

Jon | Melbourne - April 24, 2010, 1:48PM

Sorry Bill in Melbourne wasn't this item about misinterpreting history.
Yes I agree look at all sides of the story before understanding the actions they took. Bondy was definately an idiot for saying that it is obvious that he didn't "get it" and a crook for the other things he did. But it is not for me to support the tourist industry the Turks have built around this pilgrimage, hopefully in the going people will understand more about the sacrifice of the Anzacs.

bill | sydney - April 24, 2010, 1:54PM

Armc, if you're going to go into the whole Aremenian genocide thing, here is another thing that is clearly noted in history. While WWI was being preapred, and Turkey was getting ready to go to war, some Armenians, who lived freely in Turkey for so many years, also wanted a part of Turkey. They joined with the opposite side, and while Turks went to save their country, Armeninans who lived there, ransacked and burnt down villages, trying to claim land that wasn't there's to take. How can you take a country you already live in?? It's every country's worst nightmare. You go off to war, fighting for your land, while others terrorise those left behind, waiting for a nation to fall, so you can claim your peice. And so, Armenians were asked to leave. Those who wanted to leave left, those who wanted to stay, stayed.

Of course some would have fought, I mean, that's what they were there to do right? The Turkish army was a lot larger and stronger than those groups of Aremenians who wanted to fight the Turks, on their land, no matter how large the Aremenian gathering was. So you may call it genocide, Turks call it a "here's he door, now go if you do not want to live with us".

So callous of you to mention anything but what the article was about. One day, when the Aremenian issue is the article, maybe then you can write your comments.

Dee - April 24, 2010, 2:06PM

Good article. We attend Anzac Day services " just down the road" from Iraq and they are very moving as it includes all military persnnel who are serving in Iraq. My father was serving in Darwin during the Japanese bombing raids and understandably didn't speak very highly of them afterwards. And yet in 1990 when we were living in Darwin the RSL invited some visiting Japanese servicemen to march in the Anzac Day parade and there was no resentment whatsoever.

Penny | Kuwait - April 24, 2010, 3:00PM

While we focus upon what it means to Australia, descendents of Gallipoli veterans and those who visit round ANZAC Day the locals do not get much mention. I would suggest that a practical legacy would be visiting Gallipoli and (Canakkale) region all year round (versus late April) spending one's tourist dollar locally e.g. brilliant Bozca (formerly Tenedos) Island with wineries, etc. and other local sights.

connaust | bond62 - April 24, 2010, 2:57PM

I'd like to thank Martin Flanagan for his very thoughtful article, I always enjoy his pieces. Cheers.

Terry T | France - April 24, 2010, 2:55PM

To all the other Gallipoli myths, Martin, you can add the myth that the Anzacs were the predominant Allied force on the peninsula. More than three time as many British as Anzacs died in the Gallipoli campaign. The French suffered more casulaties fighting on the other side of the straights at Cannakale. Heck, even the Indians had troops there.

Nevertheless, we're still entitled to make something of it, as it was the first major outing for Australian troops (as opposed to colonial troops) and, despite the failure of leadership, they acquitted themselves well.

Even so, when I was there myself, I was moved both by the courage of those men to fight their way off the beach, and the tolerance and generosity of the Turks towards the annual invasion of bogans stopping by for a drink on their way to the running of the bulls. There is no doubt that it is tied up with their reverence for Ataturk. Do some reading - I can think of few other modern statesmen that have had such profound nation building role. We trembled in fear at the prospect of a GST - he changed their flipping alphabet!

Lest we forget.

aegrem | sydney - April 24, 2010, 2:51PM

Marilyn: I'm amazed you couldn't find an angle to drag the poor refugees into this! Try harder next time. C-

And just for the record, whatever one's view on the Great War, it was not the soldiers' fault they were there.

Dee: Yes the Armenian story is complicated. Not that it is relevant to this story, it is disingenuous to say that Turkey has nothing to apologise for in terms of what happened to the Armenian people of Turkey.

The whole bloody war was a tragedy of a scale not seen before in history. No participating country finished the conflict with their reputations intact.

HomerJ: you are one of the few people I know that actually understands what the whole Gallipoli campaign was about. The fact that it was a complete debacle was not the fault of Churchill, the ideas man, but the Generals executing the "plan".

Mark Harrison | Brisbane - April 24, 2010, 3:14PM

Surely ANZAC day is a day for remembering the dead, including those who fell on the other side. It's not the common soldier who starts wars. Looking at the Cowan inquiry in Britain, I hope every one learns why states go to war and that it's sometimes necessary. If we don't resist, then injustices will happen. If Hitler didn't get stopped, then the massacres of the Jews and all the other targets of his regime would have been buried like the Armenians and the Katya Poles. Sometimes our leaders make mistakes and others pay for them. Let's make the day a memorial for the dead, and make sure we don't allow our soldiers and our government the licence to commit unethical acts.

Peter B - April 24, 2010, 3:30PM

"And Gallipoli was a total disaster, our soldiers invaded, murdered and slunk out like the cowards they were."

At the time, Australia was a British colony. Technically we were at war the moment Britain was.

Already being in a state of war, the attempted invasion of Turkey was a legitimate act of war.

The respect shown towards Australian soldiers after Gallipoli BY THEIR ENEMY shows how wide of the mark your comments are.

Goresh | Brisbane - April 24, 2010, 3:54PM



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