2,277 Australians were killed or wounded out of the total 4,600 men committed to the fighting. Seven Victoria Crosses were awarded.
This week is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle for Lone Pine (6-10 August 1915), an event of such significance that it remains the location for all ANZAC Day dawn services.
The width of the front of the attack was 150 metres and the distance between the two trench lines was about 55 to 90 metres. The size of a big football field. Unimaginable today.
The Turks losses have been listed as ‘1,520 killed, 4,700 wounded, 760 listed as missing and 134 captured by the Australians’.
So here is the point. Would young Australians today commit to battle so selflessly as the ANZACs?
Would we want them to? Will we need them to?
It all seems so futile and in today’s world we have technology to replace actual men and women facing each other in battle. It should never be a challenge for us again. But could it?
I read with interest comments by the chairman of the intelligence committee of the US House of Representatives, Devin Nunes, who is visiting Australia this week. He advises us to look to North Africa.
Dealing with Libya
“Let’s deal with Libya first,” he said. “If you don’t deal with Libya, if you have contagion … I think it’s becoming more and more apparent contagion is happening in Egypt and Tunisia, and if … Egypt falls the whole damn North Africa falls,” he commented in the Fairfax Media.
He then points to the prospect of 250,000 Libyan refugees crossing the Mediterranean, including concealed extremists.
How will the West contain this number of desperate people in an orderly, humanitarian manner? How will we deal with the ‘fifth column’ extremist? In the Second World War everyone was placed in internment camps for the length of the war; but this war will be fought ‘for 100 years’.
This challenge is a reality now. 200,000 North African refugees landed in just one country, Italy, in 2014. On one day this year, 29 May, the Italian Navy picked up 4,200 refugees from 22 separate boats.
As Devin Nunes says, if Egypt with its population of 82 million people falls to Islamic extremists, the flow of desperate people will be epic.
Will we need an armed response, soldiers on the ground holding people back as well as fighting on the ground in North Africa? Would we commit our young people to such a war? Would they go in the numbers required?
Professional defence personnel
I don’t know the answer. I have experienced my son being in the army and I can say our defence personnel are magnificent young people – aware and committed to the roles they are given. And they are expertly trained.
They are also professional in that they understand the conditions they have to operate in. They would not accept Lone Pine and they would demand a humanitarian approach to managing citizens.
When we take a quiet moment to reflect on Lone Pine 100 years ago, I believe it is important to also reflect on what is happening in our world today. The humanitarian tragedies and how we should be responding and preparing. And our young people must be engaged in this conversation. They will have to be the “heavy lifters’.