Remembering ANZAC day - and the 1st Battalion the Lancashire Fusiliers

One hundred and three years ago today the Gallipoli landings began. Thousands of brave fighting men from Australia and New Zealand took part,  and a great many were killed or wounded.

Today is ANZAC day when we remember those brave men, especially those who fell in that battle.

Britain has been lucky enough to have many brave and loyal allies from around the world, particularly from the Commonwealth. None have been braver or truer friends than the Australians and the New Zealanders.

I have never been within a thousand miles of a battlefield, but if I ever did find myself in a foxhole, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have at my back than an Aussie or a Kiwi. One of the greatest complements ever paid to the ANZAC fighting men came from an enemy Field Marshall who came up against them in the following war:

We should also remember the Indian, Gurkha Rifles, Irish, Jewish and English troops who took part in the Gallipoli campaign.

The troops who landed on 25th April 1915 at ANZAC Cove included the 1st Australian Division and the New Zealand and Australian Division, a force of about 25,000 men.

On the same day there were landings at Cape Helles by the Lancashire Fusiliers, Royal Munster Fusiliers, the Hampshire regiment and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Shortly thereafter they were joined by the men of the 29th Indian Brigade, including the 1/6th Gurkha Rifles, and by the 1st/5th and the 2nd/10th Gurkha battalions; and the Jewish volunteers of the Zion Mule Corps.

I particularly want to mention the 1st Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, who famously won "six VCs before breakfast" in the landings a hundred and three years ago today.

Those Victoria Crosses were hard earned at a terrible price. Just over a thousand officers and men of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers boarded the landing boats on the morning of April 25th 1915, and 24 hours later they held all their objectives, but with just over three hundred effectives. Approximately seven hundred of those thousand men had been killed or injured.

Let me declare a family interest: my grandfather's younger brother, Fusilier Robert Whiteside, subsequently joined that regiment and was serving in the Lancashire Fusiliers when he was killed at the age of eighteen, just six weeks before the end of the war.

The price paid by the men of the Dublin, Munster and Hampshire regiments were similarly terrible.

We shall not forget the men of the ANZAC divisions; nor will we forget the men of the Lancashire Fusiliers, or their Irish, Hampshire, Indian, Gurkha or Jewish comrades.

"At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."


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