Is ANZAC day looking at the wrong battle?

World War One the Great War is commemorated on ANZAC day together with Australians, and on that day, the Gallipoli campaign is remembered. Perhaps the memories are better than those of the other theatre of war?

While the name Gallipoli resonates with many, the huge impact the Western Front and the battle of Passchendaele had on the lives of many New Zealanders is not so well known according to the results of a survey of 4000 New Zealanders aged 15 years and up. Just over half believed that most of the New Zealanders who died did so at Gallipoli.

These results might be partially explained by the place of Anzac Day in the national psyche and that day’s association with Gallipoli. What they also suggest however is that there is some work to be done in raising the profile of the Western Front in our understanding of New Zealand and the First World War.
To put the impact of the Western Front on our society into perspective, this theatre accounted for two-thirds of our total deaths in the war. The 12,500 New Zealanders who died on the Western Front is more than the total number of New Zealanders who died in the entire Second World War.

The centenary of the First World War presents us with the ideal opportunity to reconsider the place of the Western Front in our national narrative. The challenge will be how we can achieve this without diminishing the importance of Gallipoli.

We await the result of the “refurbishment” of Gallipoli memorials at Anzac Cove. Let us hope that the inclusiveness of Ataturk is not erased.
In the meantime, other Centenary commemorations are approaching.

This post was written by Intern Staff

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