The Perth Mint is proud to present two important additions to The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series:
In late 1914, fighting on the Western Front in France had reached a stalemate. Senior British political and military figures thought that the pressure in western Europe could be eased by attacking the Central Powers, comprising Germany and her allies, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), in the eastern Mediterranean.
The British Admiralty decided upon a naval assault on the Turkish capital of Constantinople by a fleet of British and French ships which would force their way through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmora, with the aim of assisting Russia in her fight against the Turks, and to open Russia’s Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean.
After the navy was unable to breach the Turkish defence, it was decided to send infantry against the enemy’s shore batteries. A combined Allied force known as the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was formed to launch a series of amphibious assaults on the Gallipoli peninsula. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) was ordered to land at Ari Burnu on the western side of the peninsula, while larger British and French landings were to take place further south at Cape Helles, and in a feint, on the opposite shore at Kum Kale.
Before dawn on Saturday 25 April 1915, the Anzacs were transferred from their transports to the landing boats that would take them to the beach. Survivors remembered it was a still night, with hardly a breath of wind. To maintain the element of surprise for as long as possible, troops and sailors were ordered to remain silent as they left the transports and approached the shore.
The first boats were almost ashore when the Turks opened fire. Some men were killed before they even reached the beach. The landing had taken place further north than expected, at what would later become known as Anzac Cove, and instead of coming ashore on a gently sloping beach, the troops were confronted with steep cliffs and a warren of ridges and gullies.
Despite the chaos, the Anzacs persevered under increasingly heavy fire, attempting to negotiate their way up the cliffs and onto the ridges that formed their early objectives. By nightfall they had established a precarious beachhead but had suffered the loss of more than 2,000 men killed and wounded.
Over the next week, fighting continued to rage. By early May a stalemate had ensued. The Anzacs could make no progress inland and the Turks could not dislodge them. An attempt to break the stalemate in August failed, and with progress proving impossible, the Anzacs were evacuated in December 1915.
By the end of the Gallipoli campaign more than 10,000 Australian and New Zealand troops had lost their lives and some 18,000 had been wounded. The bodies of many of the fallen were never found, and the hills and gullies above Anzac Cove became their final resting place.
Gallipoli was considered a costly military failure, but from this defeat the Anzac legend was born. The Anzacs had earned an enduring place in the Australian psyche, creating an incredible story of courage and endurance in the face of death and despair.
Gallipoli was the first major test for the newly federated Australian nation. People believed that in the Dardanelles, Australia’s soldiers laid the foundation for a lasting sense of national identity.
New Coin details
Struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver, this coin depicts Australian troops in wooden row boats approaching the Gallipoli shoreline, with its rugged terrain in the background. The design includes the inscription ‘Making of a Nation’.
No more than 7,500 of these coins will be released.
Struck from 2oz of 99.99% pure gold, this coin depicts Anzac soldiers as they battled to scale the cliffs above Anzac Cove. The design includes the inscription 1915 – BAPTISM OF FIRE.
No more than 100 of these coins will be released.
Produced in association with the Australian War Memorial