It may have been a failure, but the Gallipoli campaign left a legacy because of the incredible spirit and courage of soldiers from fledgling armies with limited training and naive expectations, the guest of honour at The Armidale School’s Anzac Day service believes.
Major General Iain Spence CSC RFD said despite the failed attempts by both sides to break the stalemate, the baking summer, the freezing winter, the flies, the constant sickness, and a steady stream of casualties, the Anzacs held on until evacuating in December 1915, having performed at least as well as their British and French allies who had centuries of tradition an experience.
“How did they achieve this? I would suggest that is was basically because of the four qualities which the Australian Army today uses as its core qualities: courage, initiative, respect, and teamwork,” the Head of Cadets Reserves and Employer Support Division said.
The moral courage to question authority and say ‘no’ to something known to be wrong reflected a sense of fairness that made this characteristic more common among the Anzacs than others on the peninsular.
“Paradoxically, our relative lack of training and tradition made ordinary Australian soldiers quicker to seize the initiative and step up to replace dead or wounded officers and NCOS. Perhaps because of their bush skills learned from country living, Australians were also quick to find ingenious new ways of solving military problems – at all levels,” he said.
“Respect for others, although in 1915 often wrapped in a rough humour, was also a feature of the Anzacs. Indigenous and non-European Australians (such as Chinese) were not officially allowed to enlist, but many found ways of doing so (which is another good example of initiative). And teamwork is also linked with respect – working with your mates, no matter what their background is a key to success. Most big things in life worth achieving take the efforts of a team not an individual.”
With Anzac Day falling in term time, the TAS community was able to commemorate on the day itself, at a school service at 7.00am and later, with the 260-strong TAS Cadet Unit participating in the Armidale Anzac service in Central Park. Continuing a decades long tradition, a 16-man TAS Ceremonial Guard provided the catafalque party for the services at TAS, Dangarsleigh and Armidale.
The TAS service included the reading of the names of 103 old boys and staff who have given their lives in service of the nation from the Boer War to the present, including the three Sandilands brothers who all lost their lives in World War II and, most recently, Lt Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008.
The TAS Cadet Unit was established in 1898 and is the second oldest unit in Australia.
Please click on the images below for photos from the TAS service, Dangarsleigh, and the Armidale march and service. Images courtesy Tim Hughes, Graham MacDougall, David Rose and Michael Taylor.