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The Press Wednesday, April 25, 1917. Anzac Day.

To-day is a day. full of glorious memories to all such ns dwell " by tho long "•wash, ofi Australasian seas." On | ;his day two years ago tho children of the great Motherland drawn from tho very furthest extremity of her "far- *' flung battle-line," sealed with glorious victory and glorious death their undying and unshaken loyalty to " Alma "Mater Imperatrix," the Empress foster-mother of them all. Beneath Ul9 shadow of her mighty wings for many, many long years of peaco their souls had dwelt serene *in freedom nor dreamt of war's alarms, and tho worldenemv said in his foolish heart : "These "men have forgotten of what people 41 and lineago they axe, they will never " jeopard their lives in tho high places " of danger for the sake of a far-off "•Motherland that most of them havo " never behold with their eyes." Then eatno of & sudden tho long, clear call of tho war trumpet, as from tho bluo slgr. and all her children knew that England in that hour had thrown down her gauntlet in tho path of tho worldoppressor, in tho cause of Freedom, Faith, ana Duty—Freedom for tho weak. Faith to her plighted word, and Duty to humanity. All round tho world rang that clou - , high-sounding call: it woke the echoes on every coast and every inlet of tho Empire's shores; it wa3 borno across the Australian Dasert to where far-off Queensland borders on the Northern Territory. Tho lonely stockrider heard it and listened for a moment, then turned his horse's head, and never rested till he reached the coast and shouldered his rifle with many another to stand by tho Motherland in her battle for Freedom and her defenco of tho oppressed. New Zealand heard and answered with tho gift of her best and bravost pons. Drawn irrcsistibjy by tho tug of tho crimson thread that binds together all men of British blood over tho wholo faco of tho earth, they gathered in their thousands and left their homes and went down to the sea in ships and assembled on tho fiito Of the oldest war that history rc'-orda, to take their part in a jrrc*Wr and more torribk. war than any that hiitory has ever known. The aorld-opprassor, too, heard that bright trumpet call, and in his cars it sounded

a note not only of defence but of dread, for it told him that his tigerspring was foiled and his counsel was foolishness.

To-day, along with tho tram pet-call to duty tho sun at his rising will flash from New Zealand to Australia and back from Australia to New Zealand the magic word "Anzac," tho word that tells how Australians and New Zealanders fought and died shoulder to shoulder in tho cause of freedom, and won a footing against fearful odds, whilo "all the world wondered.'' Timo has not yet mellowed the memory of that day, nor of tho seven long days and nights that followed with never a corner safely sheltered from the firo of tho enemy. There are many among us still who vror* there, and remember that early Sunday morning about four o'clock when tho brilliant crescent moon sank below the sea a' under cover of tho darkness tho great warships stearnod up to within two hundred and fit ry yards of tho dimly-seen shore, and the lonrr snake-liko lines of boats which had been towed behind them went ahead crowded down to the gunwalo with Australasian soldiers with rifles between their knees, each boat rowed steadily by eight British sailors with a smooth-cheeked midshipman boy of some sixteen years old in command. Backwards and forwards under heavy fire did these boys steer their boats across that 250 yards of open sea, loading and unloading their comrades in arms. No wonder it was sometimes moro than the fighting blood of tho English sailor could bear, so that once a whole boat's crew of seven seized rifles from the wounded, followed their boy commander in a furious attack on 250 Turks, and drove them headlong with 'the bayonet amid tho cheers of their Australian comrades. But at first, not a sound was heard, not a shot was fired from that dark and sombre line of cliff and hill, till when they wero still 200 yards from the shore an alarm signal blazed forth on tho hill, followed by a burst of rifle fire from the Turks entrenchcd on tho beach. Tho British sailors Lent to their oars, the steam pinnaces crowded on every pound of steam they could raise, and in grim silence they reached tho five feet water-mark. Over the gunwalo they went, and in about a minute the first trench was taken, and they found themselves stopped by a 40-foot cliff with another trench halfway up. Down went their packs and each man for himself finding foothold and hauling himself up by tho closelygrowing shrubs, in another quarter of an hour they had won tho crest of this first ridge. From there on it was a soldier's battle. A Berserk fury seemed to seize tho colonial soldier. Men were seen to stoop and passionately kis§ tho dead face of a strickcn comrado, and then hurl themselves into the fight with vengeful passion. Turning south and west, with bayonets fixed, over the ridgds, down the gullies, through tho thick scrub, they drove on with the cold steel, pitching tho Turks out of their trenches over their left shoulders with tho "haymaker's hoist," until they came within a few hundred yards of Maidos, with Nagara Point facing them acro3s the Narrows. If only guns could havo been brought up, and the position entrenched, it is not too much to say that this wonderful rush of tho colonial troops would havo won tho road to Constantinople. But thero wero only two or three thousand of them, they had no food, no guns, not even Maxims, and they wero on the point of being outflanked by tho enemy's greater numbers when a New Zealand contingent came up ill the nick of time, and the whole forco retired, suffering heavily, but fighting stubbornly and keeping their pursuers at bay to tho first ridge, and dug themselves in. But even once again they turned like wounded lions on the enemy, and with the aid of some Indian troops, back they drove to tho third ridge once more, only to havo to withdraw during the night to the first ridge again, with tho loss of one-fourth of their number.

Such is briefly tho story of Anzac Day, Ruch aro the glorious and terrible memories wbicli those who meet together to-day may recall to each other, memories of hardship and danger encountered sido by side, memories of many an net of comradeship, of many a comrade saved from imminent death, of many, alas! left behind on that rugged hillside. These last let us not forget in tho midut of our meeting; let us think of them, not sadly, but with heads reverently bowed, as of men who laid down their lives that wo might be here to-day. Although it was not theirs to win to their goal in this life, yet did thev not fail, for immortal honour clothes their memory, and their reward is exceeding great among thoso who come after. To them Justice grants a guer. | don all tho richer for this life's arrears. In tho words of an English poet still living:— "Where they starved who reaped but stubble, Silent and apart elio stands With it look that makes more noble Than tho kiss of scoptred hands. 4 And a crown sho weaves for ever. Painless thorn and sweetened rue For each glorious lo3t endeavour Of tho souls that died to do " And wherover they rest, above their sleeping heads shines, written for ever in letters of glory, the deathless legend: "Of such is the Kingdom of England."

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19170425.2.32

Bibliographic details

The Press Wednesday, April 25, 1917. Anzac Day., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 15884, 25 April 1917

Word Count
1,317

The Press Wednesday, April 25, 1917. Anzac Day. Press, Volume LIII, Issue 15884, 25 April 1917

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