There is a lot of talk in Australia this remembrance day about how Australians place too much importance on the Gallipoli campaign when thinking of World War One and tend to ignore the European campaign that was by far the biggest part of the war. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has caused quite a stir recently on this topic.
This article also has some interesting statistics about Australian troops in WWI:
- 50,000 served in Gallipoli while 250,000 served in Europe
- 8,700 died in Gallipoli while 46,000 dies in Europe
- The fought 8 battles in Gallipoli and 40 in Europe
- 9 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians in Gallipoli and 52 VCs were awarded in Europe
- The Gallipoli campaign lasted 8 months while the European campaign lasted two and a half years
And perhaps most importantly, Gallipoli was a military disaster while on the Western Front Australians fought under Australian command for the first time and achieved many victories (as much as anything that happened in the horrific waste of life that was WWI can be called a victory). The AIF only constituted 10% of Allied forces but won 25% of enemy territory, prisoners of war, arms and ammunition. SO it’s about time more Australians gave them their due for what they really achieved.
The quote at the end is from the most famous poem from World War One – “Dulce et Decorum Est”