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Anzac Day 2019: Remembering 15,000 Indian soldiers who fought in Battle of Gallipoli

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New Delhi, Apr 25: Anzac Day commemorations are held every year on April 25. The day honours soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who lost their lives in conflicts during the first world war. While the day is observed mainly to pay tributes to soldiers who lost lives in first world war, homage is also bid to those to sacrificed lives in other conflicts.

The day marks the anniversary of the first significant military action fought by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs.

Anzac Day

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. Up to 15,000 Indians fought with allied troops at Gallipoli, but their contribution remains relatively unknown and unrecognised in Australia and their homeland, says a report in www.abc.net.au.

[Why Australia & New Zealand observe Anzac Day on April 25]

Historians believe almost 1,400 Indians died at Gallipoli and up to 3,500 were wounded. Unlike many of the Australian troops, all the Indians who fought were professional soldiers, said a report in www.abc.net.au.
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At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied deaths totalled over 56,000, including 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand.

Historians are divided about how they summarise the campaign's result. Broadbent describes the campaign as "a close-fought affair" that was a defeat for the Allies, while Carlyon views the overall result as a stalemate. Peter Hart disagrees, arguing that the Ottoman forces "held the Allies back from their real objectives with relative ease", while Haythornthwaite calls it a "disaster for the Allies". The campaign did cause "enormous damage to ... [Ottoman] national resources", and at that stage of the war the Allies were in a better position to replace their losses than the Ottomans, but ultimately the Allied attempt at securing a passage through the Dardanelles proved unsuccessful, as per Wikipedia.

The ultimate sacrifice made by Anzac soldiers had a profound impact on both countries as well as on the forst world war itself. The battle and the sacrifice is sometimes referred to as the "Anzac spirit". To honour that spirit, tradition, and the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, commemorative services are held on 25 April in both countries since 1916.

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