One hundred and five years ago, thousands of young men, from foreign shores, huddled together in cold damp conditions were onboard awaiting the start of a campaign, intended to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula at Z beach. The aim was to surprise the Turkish troops but unfortunately due to a number of miscalculations, saw the incorrect beach stormed and the forces came under immediate attack from above. Whilst gunfire rained down on them from above, they were transported to shore and expected to storm the beach and try and establish a position from which to battle from. They found themselves in the unimaginable position of being easy targets from the enemy; many didn’t even make it ashore shot in the boats as they were transported to the beach. Others that did make it ashore had to scrabble for cover and hope to survive. One can only imagine how terrifying this position must have been for the troops; ‘snipper alley’ helps to paint the picture along with stories of the stench of bodies that were scattered across the battle field piling up on top of each other, as it was impossible to retrieve them. Courage beyond belief as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) fort side by side in atrocious conditions during the battles that lasted eight months with the loss of 130,000 soldiers including 2779 New Zealand’s and 8700 Australians. The ANZAC spirit was born there on the beaches and cliffs of Turkey, now named Anzac Cove, and is a sense of National pride for both countries with many of us attending dawn parades at the local war memorials annually. These soldiers, like all who have served in the all the wars and peace keeping missions since are celebrated and remembered on 25th April.
The battle against Covid19 is being raged across the globe (as at today 2,710,238 confirmed cases and 190,890 deaths) on many fronts. Although the numbers do not equate to the total number of deaths in World War 1 (15-19 million) or those who were lost to the Spanish flu in 1918 (between 17 to 50 million) this global pandemic is a real threat to our civilisation as we know it both physically and economically. The ANZAC spirit remains and will help us get through this. Things we took for granted three months ago may not return for a year or eighteen months, so much is unknown but we are all doing our best to fight this unseen enemy.
This Anzac day we will be in lockdown so in New Zealand we will be standing at dawn at the end of our driveways to show our respect whilst we remain social distancing. We will be wearing our poppy’s and using a video clip to play the last post. We will remember.
Before we moved to lockdown I bought a canvas to make use of some of the time to reengage with one of my passions, painting. I envisioned a black and white canvas of roses with one red rose. Now a month on I have almost finished the painting and although not intended originally to represent anything, on reflection how appropriate this is given the fact that it is almost Anzac Day; a day where we wear a red poppy to signify our fallen soldiers who went to war or server at home to protect our freedom. This year we are all protecting our shores. This painting will now signify those that we have lost to Covid19 and represent Anzac Day.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.