ANZAC Gallipoli evacuation 'best part' of operation

ANZAC Gallipoli evacuation 'best part' of operation

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC evacuation from Gallipoli during World War I.

It followed eight months of vicious fighting trying to take the tactically important peninsula from the Ottoman Empire.

Gallipoli changed the way New Zealanders have viewed war ever since.

Almost 3000 New Zealanders died there, and military historian Glyn Harper says it's ironic that the most successful part of the entire campaign was the evacuation.

"One New Zealander wrote back home to a friend that 'the British Empire is muddling through as only they know how to do it', and he was quite right; it was a muddle and a disaster from start to finish," he says.

"The best part of it was when we actually left. It was the best part of the whole operation and went according to plan."

The last of 45,000 men were secretly withdrawn from ANZAC Cove by December 20, and amazingly, without a single casualty.

Historian Chris Pugsley says Gallipoli ended New Zealand's innocence about the true cost of modern warfare.

"Until then there was a sense of glorious endeavour and Gallipoli killed that – the casualty rates, 93 percent of everyone we sent to Gallipoli became a casualty," he says.

"It changed governments. Massey was forced to become a National-coalition Government, [and] it ended the belief that this was a war that would be a short war."

Sadly Gallipoli was only the start of the carnage. Most Kiwi soldiers were then sent to fight the Germans in France and Belguim, where they would suffer 80 percent of New Zealand's 60,000 World War I casualties.

They were horrific figures for a country back then of just 1 million people, and the highest casualty rate per capita of any nation involved.

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