25 April 2015

"The Beautiful City": ANZAC, April 25 1915

Kallipolis, Gallipoli, is not just yet-another First World War centenary. It is one of the significant moments in World History. It is the last occasion when the forces of what we could then still call Christendom engaged the Ottoman Empire. It was the last Crusade, when we set out to retake Constantinople. It was an enterprise which was part of our alliance with Christian Russia, Holy Russia. Strange, though, that Churchill was its begetter.

It was a failure. Even though Turkey was involved in the eventual defeat of Germany and her associates, and Constantinople was indeed occupied by the victorious Allies between 1918 and 1923, the Gallipoli campaign itself ended in ignominious defeat. It involved a great loss of life. As well as all the Allied troops who died, we remember most particularly on ANZAC day the Anzacs, "the poor dead Australians", and the New Zealanders, our kinsmen, and we pray for the repose of their souls. That defeat was the baptism of fire which represented the birth of those two great nations ... for which we also pray, for their good estate, for Christian civilisation which is still alive in their Christian communities.

It was a failure. The problem about the triumphalist, Whiggish view of History upon which many of us were brought up is it indoctrinates its victims with the idea that the Goodies always win; that the winners must therefore have been the Goodies. That this is not so, is one of the most important lessons to be learned; and we British Catholics, with our counter-cultural hermeneutic of our own Island History in the centuries after 1559, ought to be among the first to understand this and to teach it.

Like many British families, mine still has the little brass tin which the Princess Mary had sent to all fighting men (and women auxiliaries) of the "Imperium Britannicum" at Christmas 1914. It reminds us that we bore arms with the French and the Russians. Every time I look at it, I wonder whether our politicians are right so to demonise Russia, without qualification, at a time when, whatever its failings, Russia is no longer an atheist power and when it faces the same threats from militant Islam as we do ourselves.

I trust that all my readers will remember to pray for the soldiers who died near the Beautiful City, and for the sailors who died in the seas around Constantinople.


Anonymous said...

Russia is currently retreating into a narrow and sometimes brutal nationalism. However, what is driving that cultural tendency is not just confrontation with militant Islam to the South and East, but fear of being overrun by the rampant and decadent secularism they see dominating the West. Of course among their political elite motives are mixed with a yearning for unreformed Soviet style power and also with highly corrupt financial dealings of the "oligarchy", but at heart they do have a point.

Seen from this angle, Our Lady's, as yet unfulfilled, request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart becomes as relevant and urgent as ever. Maybe, just maybe, Pope Francis has the sort of maverick "chutzpah", charismatic devotional outlook , and authoritarian daring to go ahead and do it. He could challenge all the bishops of the world to join him and threaten to excommunicate or depose those who refused. Now that would be a dramatic apocalyptic gesture!

Lawrence Hall, HSG said...


Woody said...

From the longer view, I would suggest that the real problem is simply that all the best (i.e. the bravest and most virile) men both of Europe and Russia, died on the Eastern Front in 1941-1945. It was a truly satanic triumph.

John Nolan said...

Churchill's original plan, to force the Straits by naval power alone, was feasible; also an early landing on the Gallipoli peninsula would have found it virtually undefended. But there was a wider war to be fought, and in 1915 the British were still subordinate to the French both politically and militarily.

The German army had to be defeated in the main theatre, namely the Western Front. Churchill's experience (tactically) of Gallipoli at least made him postpone D-Day until it was feasible; unfortunately his strategic sense, born out of the Great War and his reading of British history inclined him to favour indirect approaches.

'The soft underbelly of the Axis' turned out to be a hard spine. Churchill, like Lloyd George, was essentially an 'Easterner'. This actually made sense in the Second World War since the main theatre was in fact the Eastern Front.

Matthew Roth said...

Of course, Churchill preferred to invade Greece and the Balkans instead of France...

Matthew Roth said...

Thomas: well said.

And of course well said, Father.

Patrick Sheridan said...

A very Tolkienian article, father.

Unknown said...

A most convenient thing about demonizing another nation, is that when used as a backdrop it tends to make the demonizer nation appear better than it actually is.

A valuable bit of information my dear late mum (who’d earned a degree in the advanced study of social psychology) passed on to me is that, “When people get into groups, they tend to pick on one member to make themselves feel superior.” This applies equally to large scale groups.

Today’s media is very quick to hold up to the (somewhat skewed) light for public scrutiny, some of the very worst types of public offenders - notorious criminals and/or militants . . . but what are they comparing them against ? Where is the real objective reference point ; the absolute Truth ? When it is absent, everything simply becomes relative.

While our countries were rightfully condemning atheistic communism, we still saw the merit in certain social programs which might benefit the greater public , and we adopted them.

The Africans have a popular adage that, “He who points the accusative finger ,has three more fingers pointing back at himself.”

I have friends with relatives in the Ukraine, and they worry for good reasons. The current situation might be nicely expressed by Deacon Keith Fournier’s article one year ago: Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima: Pray for the Conversion of Russia, the US and the Whole World . An excerpt:

“The Russian Orthodox Church is free to speak clearly and authoritatively to the Russian people on matters of faith and morals in Russia today. Indications are that there is a resurgence of Christianity underway. There is a warming in the relationships between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
To those who are raising their eyebrows, I am not being naive. I am not saying the President Putin has fully embraced the Christian faith. However, he claims that he has. Like many, I find his handling of the Crisis in the Ukraine deeply troubling and ominous.

However, I also find it distressing that our own President Obama, who professes to be a Christian, has intentionally promoted policies and laws which threaten the sanctity of marriage and the family.

He has stopped his ears to the cry of the poorest of the poor in their mother's womb and refuses to defend their Right to Life. He seeks to silence the prophetic and moral voice of the Church in our Nation.

I love the United States of America. I know that the goodness in the soul of America will not be extinguished. However, I am first, last and all in between, a Catholic Christian. And, I recognize that something quite promising is happening in Russia and we should see it as a hopeful sign.”

Russia has had a devotion to the Holy Mother of God even before Canada and the USA ever existed as nations. She hasn’t forgotten those who venerate the Mother of God of Kazan. We can all unite as allies under Our Lady’s mantle.
There are enough points of light coming out of Russia to encourage us to keep praying for Russia (and Ukraine and Canada and the USA and Britain, etc).

Unknown said...

As a bit of an afterthought, how many readers were aware that Moscow has a law now which bans gay pride parades for the next 100 years ? Gay Parades Banned in Moscow for 100 Years, BBC.

. . . While back here in North America , Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco is being attacked by gay militant-fueled legislators who are trying to force him to have something, um, other than Catholic taught in Catholic schools Archbishop to Politicians: Would You Hire a Campaign Manager Who Works Against What You Stand for ?

Ho hum ? . . . Already read about it ? Well then, there's always Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’.

When it comes to "demonizing" other nations it would thus make sense to proceed with extreme caution, lest we, in our haste , should inadvertently end up demonizing the exorcist.

Joshua said...

Many thanks, Fr Hunwicke, for these most kind and decent words.

In Australia, in the EF, by rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, dated 23rd June 1961, one solemn Requiem may be celebrated on this day; in the OF, the particular Calendar conceded to Australia transfers St Mark to the 26th, and a proper Mass is provided for the 25th, with the following orations &c.:

Entrance Antiphon (Cf. Rev 14:13)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Let them rest from their labours, for their good deeds go with them.

Almighty everlasting God, who sent your Son to die that we might live, grant, we pray, eternal rest to those who gave themselves in service and sacrifice for their country. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer over the Offerings
Grant, O heavenly Father, that the sacrifice of Christ, who laid down his life for his friends, may raise all those who have died in war to the victory of eternal life. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon (Cf. Jn 15:13)
Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends, says the Lord.

Prayer after Communion
By our communion with this Sacrament, O Lord, grant us, we pray, fortitude in the cause of right, and may our remembrance of those who have died in war make us ardent defenders of your peace. Through Christ our Lord.

Victor said...

This is all very well - but still my friends' family die in Eastern Ukraine at the hands of insurgents backed and financed by Moscow. As long as this is the case, there is no love left for Russia...

Jacobi said...

Yes, the “Goodies “ don't always win. We have found this out on so many occasions.

Gallipoli, ( and the rest of that war ), has had an impact on my family. One uncle I remember just as a child, used to give me a half crown for sweeties. He was badly wounded and was always crippled. And by the vicissitudes of NS, although from a different part of the country, I found myself serving in a regiment that suffered very heavily before breakfast on the landing. We recruits had that drummed into us, and I haven't forgotten!

Russia is a Christian country, possibly more so now than the Secularised West. It probably remained so, quietly during the Soviet period, otherwise Christianity would not have re-emerged so quickly.

Given the universal assault on Christianity at present, a reconciliation and drawing closer together of the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Churches really ought to be a major part of the Church's strategy

We shall have to close ranks to face the future.

John Vasc said...

Perhaps because Gallipoli was a failure, and in the hope of gaining a foothold in Asia Minor as the Ottoman Empire crumbled, in 1919 Britain and France encouraged the Greeks in their attack on Turkey from the western coast of Asia Minor. Greek army forces occupied much of western Anatolia, nearly reaching Ankara, but were then counter-attacked by Ataturk and routed back to Smyrna/Izmir, where British and French naval vessels lying tantalisingly offshore abandoned most of the Greek refugees to their fate in the burning city.
The war is remembered in Greece as the Asia Minor Campaign - in post-Ottoman Turkey as the Turkish War of Independence. A lot of the Greek bitterness and sense of western betrayal goes back to this catastrophe of September 1922 - a rather moving documentary based on silent film footage, 'Tragedy of the Aegean' was shown in Greek cinemas - certainly up to the 1980s (and possibly still is?) And for decades Greek Radio would broadcast lunchtime appeals for news of family members 'last seen on the harbour in Smyrna on September 8th 1922.'
An exchange of minorities followed the peace treaty, emptying the western coast, Constantinople, Smyrna and other Anatolian cities, of their large Greek populations (one million people) and renaming the cities as entirely Turkish (Istanbul, Izmir etc).

Banshee said...

I see that you haven't run into the Third Rome theory that partly drives Russian nationalism.

The theory is that Rome used to be the head city of Christendom, and then Constantinople took over when the imperial seat moved; and then all the important people who fled Constantinople came to Moscow, so Moscow is the third Rome; and therefore Russia must rule the world.

Since Russia was originally evangelized from Ukraine, and Ukraine's Christian history is hundreds of years older, this also means that Ukraine's churches and monasteries and history are somehow bad for the Third Rome theory, and must be destroyed or subjugated. (The same thing apparently goes for Georgia, which also has a more ancient Christian history.)

I love Russia's culture and language and history. But it's like they have 1 good guy era, 999 bad guy eras. Putin is definitely a bad guy, out to conquer territory, destroy history, and even turn the Internet into his plaything. He doesn't have to be demonized; you just have to read what he does.