Anzac Day: Glory of Gallipoli: Governor-General’s Tribute [speech by Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, 26 April 1917]

[Editor: This speech by Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson was published in The Argus (Melbourne), 26 April 1917.]

Anzac Day.

Glory of Gallipoli.

Governor-General’s Tribute.

Brisbane, Wednesday. — Anzac Day was fittingly celebrated in Brisbane to-day. The Governor General (Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson) was the principal speaker at an impressive gathering at night in the Exhibition Hall. In his stirring address Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson said:—

“On Anzac Day our first thoughts go to our gallant dead at Gallipoli where two years ago His Majesty’s troops, and those of France, struck at the Dardanelles in order to reach Constantinople and to relieve a hard-pressed Ally.

“The peninsula was never the chief sphere of military operations; it was not the scene of any great victory; it was ultimately evacuated. Yet, nevertheless, the word Gallipoli will stand beside that of Blenheim and Quebec, of Inkerman, and Ypres, on the colours of every regiment that took part in that splendid enterprise — because of the glory won there, not by this battalion nor by that, but by every man, whether he belonged to the Australian or New Zealand forces, which landed at Anzac Cove; or to the 20th Division, the Territorials, and Indian troops, who made good at Cape Helles; or to the French division, who, though we British heard less of their exploits, are as much entitled to wear the laurels of Gallipoli as are their comrades of the British Empire. But of all those who fought there, and by so doing held up large armies of Turks who would otherwise have fallen on the Russian armies, the Anzacs have a special reason to celebrate this anniversary — they were not the most numerous troops on Gallipoli, other units were larger; they did not suffer the heaviest casualties, but it was their entry into the great war — and a triumphant entry they made of it. It was there they won their spurs, it was there they displayed the old fighting qualities of the race — with a new gaiety, a particular dash of their own, which endeared them to their British comrades, who are so ever ready to recognise and applaud the merits and the achievements of their brothers in arms.

“The Anzacs on Gallipoli brought to Australia and to New Zealand a new fame. It was there they justified their predominance in the southern seas. Those original first and second divisions, with others added, have, since Gallipoli, gained fresh laurels in the decisive sphere of the Western Front. There they are now part of the great line containing the vast armies raised by Britain and France, which are advancing to sweep the Germans off the fair lands of France and Belgium, which they have so wrecked and despoiled; and they will be there when the final overthrow of Germany is achieved, whereby alone freedom will be guaranteed to mankind. Nothing but lack of men can stay that advance and that overthrow. Nothing but failure to organise and deploy our whole strength can now rob us and our Allies of victory.

“We may be certain that Germany will not suffer defeat through any failure on her part to put the last man, last woman, and last mark into the conflict. Nor will France, whose every available son is at the front, and is replaced in the field and in the workshop by her every available daughter. Our enemy and our Ally, and our own mother country, with her 5,000,000 men under arms, her great navy and vast output of munitions, have set the standard. Each nation, and every separate unit of the Empire, will be judged by her approximation to or departure from that standard. In war it is only acts and sacrifices that count and they have to stand in contrast with the professions made and the ideals upheld in times of peace. A nation will go up higher or go down lower by the simple test of the response made by her sons to the tap of drum, and by her daughters to the call for national service. She will be ranked in the estimation of mankind by the numbers who answer the roll call, of those who risk life for liberty, and by the measure of the effort made to win the war. This is not the time for nice calculations of appropriate quotas, or of what it may be convenient to give or receive. Had the Allies entered upon such calculations, and discussed what it would be convenient for each to give or to receive, then Germany would ere now have been in possession of the world. That we are not now at her mercy is due to those who were first in the war.

“We are glad to think the Anzacs were amongst them. Whether the peril of German domination is gone for good depends on whether these same men, reinforced by those who, like the United States of America, have come in later, continue to strike with every force they can command, drawn from every available quarter. We are confident they will. To-day we renew the pledge to give our last man and last shilling, while baring our heads to the memory of those of our kinfolk who forgot the claims of self, and sacrificed life itself so that Australia might have freedom.”

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 26 April 1917, p. 7

[Editor: Placed a double quotation mark before “On Anzac Day” and “We may be certain”.]

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