Looking Back: Lessons from Gallipoli
Back in 2015, Expatch interviewed Col. Bruce Murray AM, former Defence Attaché to the Republic of the Philippines during a media briefing with the former Australian Ambassador. As a part of the military service himself, Col. Murray shared with us lessons from the Battle of Gallipoli and he also clarified certain details in history.
Background of the discussion:
This was followed by an open forum and a discussion about the Battle of Gallipoli. Although this battle took place more than 100 years ago, the lessons we can all learn from this part of Australia’s history are priceless and still relevant today.
The 25th of April 1915 saw the beginning of one of the most significant military encounters in world history, profoundly affecting the lives of millions in many countries.
Gallipoli, a windswept Turkish peninsula overlooking the entry to the Black Sea and also the ancient city of Troy, was the scene of a failed amphibious attack by over half a million troops from Britain, India, France, Canada and – for the first time fighting as independent nations – Australian and New Zealand.
The military objective was to break through and open up a route to bolster the Russian allies. If successful this could have changed history by easing Russian hardships and might have affected the events leading to the Communist revolution in 1917.
As it was, the allies suffered crippling losses coming up against a revived Ottoman Turkish force supported by Germany and Austria and led by a military and political genius, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who went on to found the modern Turkish state, and who won a resounding victory over the Allies.
Gallipoli is therefore hugely significant and symbolic for Turkish nationhood and for the the Australian and New Zealand national identity. Their forces – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – or ANZAC – gave their name to the day of commemoration and the spirit that their troops displayed.
However Gallipoli and ANZAC Day are also a broader motif for the human cost of war, and a time when all war dead from all sides in all conflicts should be remembered and honoured.
Interview with H.E. Bill Tweddell and Col. Bruce Murray
Marcelle: From the 1981 movie “Gallipoli” directed by Peter Weir, starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, we find that the movie ended in tragedy for the young Australian soldiers. It reminded me of the Fallen 44 or the 44 Special Action Force members of of Philippine National Police (PNP) who died last 25th January this year. Now, what can we learn from Gallipoli 100 years ago that is relevant today?
H.E. Bill Tweddell: Yes, thank you so much there. I think one of the lessons and nobody will underline this to you more emphatically than a serving member of the Armed Forces, is that war is a dreadful thing and nobody wants war and killing. And that was as true then as it is now. So many broken hearts, so many broken families so war needs to be the last resort, would be one of the lessons of military service. Can you expand on it, Bruce? I think that remains as true today as it ever was.
Col. Murray: Yes, that’s exactly right. No one wants to wish to go to war and the film does show quite a tragedy. All the men thought they were going off to Europe to fight the Germans for the King and country. No one knew that they would be diverted to Cairo and go in training to take on the Ottoman Empire who by now basically had saddled up with the Germans.
I think that what we probably can take out…the key lessons here are enduring. There’s a lot of misconception about the planning of the landings. Everyone said that it was a British plan and it went terribly wrong and they landed on the wrong location but in all respect, the Australians actually planned the landing. And they planned where they wanted to land. And they decided to land pre-dawn under darkness without any cannon fire to herald their landing. And they wanted to do it their way. And to many degrees, the Australians did do it their way. What they didn’t have were the tools to finish off the job. And you mentioned how would you compare it to today.
Yes, if you’ve got 300 special PNP SAF have gone in, they’ve done the job but they went to finish the job but they don’t have the support they’d like to… to be able to finish it. In many respects in Gallipoli there was never the support to do it right in the first place and to finish it off.
The British were bogged down on first day, getting off the landing ship, River Clyde. They didn’t get off the ship until after darkness.
The Scottish regiment were probably the only ones who actually made their objectives. The Australians almost made their objectives but never appealed the force of the Turks. With this, I guess if you’ve got a plan…if you’re going to plan an assault or an attack, you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to back it up and you need to secure your withdrawal route.
The ANZACs decided on the first day, “We should get out now while we can. We should withdraw.” But the British said, “No, stay where you are. Hold on.” And that’s what they tried to do for almost nine months without making any more progress. There are lots of parallels…nothing becomes closer to the forefront than the bravery of the people sent to do a job in the name of their country.
Author and Interviewer: Marcelle Villegas
Video transcription: Marcelle Villegas and Derek Stewart
Courtesy of Kenneth de Guzman of MultiRational Corporation
Special thanks to:
H.E. Bill Tweddell, former Australian Ambassador to the Philippines
Colonel Bruce Murray AM, former Defence Attache to the Republic of the Philippines
Book of Prof. Karganilla – http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/671715/documentary-on-battle-for-manila-is-remembrance-reminder