Australian World War I Enlistment Poster for the Gallipoli Campaign

Australia World War 1 Gallipoli Campaign Enlistment Poster

At the outbreak of World War I Europe split into two opposing blocs consisting of the Allied powers of Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy pitted against the Central powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Nationalism was rampant at the time even in Britain’s former colonies with many Australians rallying to the call to sign up to defend the Empire. The first Australians who volunteered for service were posted to Egypt to guard against a possible Turkish attack on the Suez Canal which was considered vital to British supply lines from India and the Asia-Pacific. The anticipated attack never eventuated and after four and a half months of training outside of Cairo, the soldiers of the Australian Imperial Forces were combined with the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces to form the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) and were re-deployed to the Gallipoli peninsular landing at Gabe Tepe (Anzac Cove) on the fateful day of 25th April 1915. It was expected that the ANZACS would quickly establish a beachhead and then march on in tandem with their British and French allies to take Constantinople, but instead they were met with fierce resistance by the Turkish forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Kemal Ataturk, who later founded the Republic of Turkey. Although the Turks were able to halt their progress they were unable to dislodge the ANZACS who were pinned down in the cliffs surrounding the cove and a stalemate ensued for the remainder of 1915. On the 19th and 20th of December 1915 the ANZAC forces stealthily withdrew under cover of night. It is recorded that of the 50,000 Australians that served at Gallipoli, 8,709 were killed in action. Similarly New Zealand lost 2,271 of the 14,000 who served during the course of the campaign which was considered a baptism of fire for both fledgling nations and the event that spawned the ANZAC legend.