Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gallipoli by Les Carlyon.

Gallipoli by Les Carlyon. Hardcover book published by Pan Macmillan 2001, 600 pages with some black and white photographs and a few black and white maps.

Les Carlyon’s Gallipoli brings an epic tragedy to life. It takes the reader into the trenches to witness the fear courage and humour of the men who fought there, vividly describing the soldiers’ experiences whether Australian, New Zealand, British, French or Turkish. Gallipoli also closely examines those who led them, the generals and politicians — some brilliant, some ruthless, some hopelessly incompetent — who held the lives of tens of thousands of young men in their hands. From the grand military and political strategies to the squalor of the front line, this is a haunting insight into the realities of war. The struggle for the Gallipoli Peninsula was dominated by the terrain as much as by men and steel, and Carlyon makes the battlefields come alive, walking through them and capturing the landscape in a way no other writer has managed. Using a masterly blend of storytelling and scholarship, and an intimate knowledge of the ground itself, Les Carlyon has produced the most definitive account of the campaign yet written, and a superbly readable story of one of the defining moments in our history.”

In the next few days Australian history will hit another milestone, that milestone being the 100th anniversary of Australia's disastrous efforts at Gallipoli during the first world war. If you're not in Australia then you mightn't be aware of the patriotic fervour that is encompassing our lives here at the moment. It's a long way from the beaches of Turkey in 1915 to the beaches of Australia, but that hasn't stopped everyone/most people, from joining together to reflect upon this now distant but not forgotten event. Paul Keating and others, have commented that Gallipoli is drastically overrated within Australia's history. I'm not going to take sides on this one, but will say that even if this is case, it is still a milestone and something to reflect upon.

Here in Clunes we commemorate Anzac day with a march of our returned soldiers and a ceremony at our war memorial in the centre of town. Due to the anniversary of Gallipoli, the powers that be have decided that this year there will also be a dawn service and upon reflection I have decided that I will be there for this early morning commemoration, my first ever dawn service. My father fought in the second world war and Anzac day is a time that I reflect upon the horrors that whilst never spoken about, were something that I know he lived through. I should also say that my father being German, he was in the German army. I was talking to someone earlier today and they pointed out that war is always started by old men sitting comfortably a long way away from the death and destruction. Over the years I have come to realise that it doesn't matter which side you're on, it's always the young men and those innocents unlucky enough to get in their way, who suffer the most. For me, Anzac day is about everyone who suffers in war. Others can worship the heroes, i'll stick with the rest.

...and yes, I do have a copy of Gallipoli for sale at the moment.  

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