So if there’s any historical event involving Australia and New Zealand that you’ve heard of, it’s probably Gallipoli. If you haven’t, then you’re missing a key piece of Australian and New Zealander history.
Before WWI, Australia had seen pretty much no major battles (happens when you’re off at the far away corner of a map). New Zealand had the occasional battle during the 19th century, but it was nothing like WWI. There’s a good reason for that; WWI was like nothing the world had ever seen.
Anyway, so when WWI came around, Britain was in need of troops. Conveniently, they had a number of colonies that they could put to use. There were Indian troops pulled in, Canadians, Irish, folks from every corner of Britain, and of course, Australia and New Zealand, among others.
Thing was, of course, none of the Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) troops were prepared for warfare. So they had to hop on ships and go over to Egypt to train.
Meantime, there’s a problem that Britain and its allies have encountered, and its name is the Ottoman Empire (aka Turkey and its holdings). The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of Germany and the Austria-Hungarian Empire (a number of empires were still around at this point) plus their allies.
Attacks towards Germany weren’t doing so hot. Britain and its allies reached the conclusion that attacking Germany’s allies (who were weaker, generally speaking) was a good way to get to Germany and cause a lot of problems for it.
So the plan to take the Gallipoli (which is in Turkey) peninsula was born. The Anzacs were to land at Gallipoli, and the British-French troops at another point.
Course, this plan had several flaws in the actual doing of it.
For one thing, the landing was missed. It was done at night, which caused some confusion.
More importantly, there were Turkish troops who were ready and willing to fight back.
The landing became mass chaos, with men fighting just to get to the shore. Many of the men in charge were shot, which led to another problem: the spots they were going to reach originally were not reasonable goals anymore. So, the few remaining in charge chose a different line to hold.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be communicated to many troops, who valiantly tried to push out to the old points, and were lost.
So you’ve got a smaller amount of men than was planned on, holding a tenuous line against an enemy in the dark.
But hold it they did. Despite large losses and general confusion, the Anzacs took the beach. Several days after the bloodbath was over, there was a sort of truce between the two sides: they could leave their posts without fear of getting shot in order to bury the dead.
The Anzacs held Gallipoli for almost a year before the higher-ups decide to pull out.
While the Gallipoli campaign was mostly a bust, it’s a point of pride for Australians and New Zealanders; it’s the first time both countries truly stepped onto the world stage, and it is sort of the marking point of when they became countries of their own. The Anzacs were unbelievably brave, and this is why the campaign is looked at as a good legacy in both countries’ histories.