April 23, 2016

ANZAC Day - 2016


"ANZAC was the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey early on the morning of 25 April 1915 during the First World War (1914-1918).

As a result, one day in the year has involved the whole of Australia in solemn ceremonies of remembrance, gratitude and national pride for all our men and women who have fought and died in all wars. 

That day is ANZAC Day - 25 April.

Every nation must, sooner or later, come for the first time to a supreme test of quality; and the result of that test will hearten or dishearten those who come afterwards. For the fledgling nation of Australia that first supreme test was at Gallipoli."
More here. 

The battlefields covered the Middle East and up to the Western Front.


The Australian troops were under British command until Sir John Monash was assigned that duty.  He was knighted on the field for his efforts, and for turning the tide in favour of the Allies.


The centenary of the landing at Gallipoli was in 2015.

There are no more survivors of WW1, and the ranks of the survivors of WW2 are dwindling.
Now the survivors of the Viet Nam War are keeping the memory of the ANZACs alive. 

From The Australian:

Vietnam veterans have become the flag bearers of the Anzac ­legend, for the first time outnumbering Diggers who fought in World War II.
As the sun increasingly sets on the heroes of the nation’s largest war, Vietnam veteran and Long Tan hero Dave Sabben said his generation was ready to become the keepers of the flame.

“We are obliged to take over the reins now; if we don’t then who will?” he said.

“But we should all give heartfelt thanks to the legacy which those (World War II) soldiers have left us — they have set the standard for us to match.”

In only four years, the number of surviving World War II Diggers has fallen from 81,100 to barely 39,000 or less than 1-in-20 of the 930,00 who fought against the Nazis and the Japanese.

The rapid decline in their ranks has prompted Veterans ­Affairs Minister Dan Tehan to urge all Australians to turn out in force at Monday’s Anzac Day commemorations to remind this fading ­generation the nation is grateful for its service and sacrifice.
“Time marches on for all of us, and these figures really hit home that one day, all too soon, there will be no living World War II veterans to honour,” Mr Tehan said.

“That’s why it is important we make the effort on every Anzac Day to honour our veterans so that they know while they are still with us that we are forever grateful for their sacrifice.”
As of last June, the number of Vietnam veterans surpassed the number of World War II soldiers, with 44,200 surviving Vietnam vets compared with 39,400 World War II veterans, most of whom are well into their 90s.

“Whether we like it or not we are now the inheritors of the Anzac legend and we will take up the ­responsibility that goes along with this,” says Mr Sabben, who as a 21-year-old platoon commander helped lead his troops in Australia’s greatest victory of the Vietnam War at Long Tan.

On August 18, 1966, Mr Sabben was part of 108 Australian and New Zealand troops pinned down amid rubber trees in Long Tan by an estimated 2500 Vietnamese troops.

In a remarkable victory against the odds, the Australians repelled the attack, killing more than 300 of the enemy while ­losing only 18 soldiers.

Mr Sabben, like many other Vietnam vets, endured ­either ­ambivalence or hostility from Australians upon his return as a divided nation failed to distinguish between government policy and those who served their country.

“We came home to a hostile home environment while those who fought in the (Second) World War came back as heroes,” he said. “The protesters, the politicians, the press and the public were against us.”

It was a stain Mr Sabben ­believes Vietnam veterans wore until the mid-1990s.

“Since then there has been a groundswell of opinion where people have become more positive about Vietnam veterans as well as Anzac Day itself,” he says.

Mr Sabben said Vietnam vets were already taking over from the World War II generation in the running of RSLs and veterans ­affairs issues.

“We essentially run the Anzac Day parade now and when you look at the poppy sellers they are mostly all Vietnam-aged veterans,’’ he said.

As if to prove the demographic point, Anzac Day marches around the nation will this year be led by Vietnam veterans to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the 1st Australian taskforce base at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province.

This base marked the start of a serious Australian commitment to Vietnam, a conflict in which 60,000 Australians served, at a cost of 521 lives.

On Monday in Melbourne, Mr Sabben will lead about 100 Vietnam veterans from the 6th Battalion RAR, which was based in Nui Dat. “It’s a lovely honour.”

Mr Sabben, who fellow troops once described as being ice-cool under fire, returned to Long Tan in 2006 to meet the commanders of the Vietcong D445 Battalion, which ambushed the Australian troops on that day in 1966.

At that meeting, under the same rubber trees they once fought among, the former vice-commander of the Vietnamese troops, Nguyen Minh Ninh, ­admitted for the first time that the Australians had won the battle of Long Tan despite Vietnamese propaganda to the contrary.

It was a moment that deeply moved Mr Sabben, who said as he stood on the battlefield that the admission of defeat from the Vietnamese was “worth 40 years of waiting”.

Fifty years on, Vietnam veterans like Mr Sabben have a new challenge — as the keepers of the Anzac legend.

Picture credit:many thanks to Emu Ridge
Some related posts and links:

Update: It should also be noted that the ADF were involved in the Korean War, the  Malaysian Emergency and other lesser deployments. These do not receive much mention in the media.
Many thanks to Keith for this additional information.

More about The Light Horse Brigade here.

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 List of Australians Awarded the Victoria Cross

 Albert Barnett (Bert) Facey - Australian Dictionary of Biography

The Top 10 Australian Films Of The Past 50 Years

Sir John Monash: Grantlee Kieza’s Biography

Anzac Day - 2015

Charles Bean 

Keith Murdoch