Some interviews are easier than others. While one could be like two old friends reuniting and having a chat over a beer. Another could be like stepping into a lion’s den. Taming the enthusiastic and exuberant red banner wearing Peter Fitzsimons was always going to be a challenge. He’s so passionate about his subject. So we sent in our most genial of interviewers, Mr Andrew Cattanach. And what do you know, the plucky little guy did the job.
By Peter Fitzsimons
On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail.
Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation’s Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated Australians and New Zealanders involved: the birth of their countries’ sense of nationhood.
Now approaching its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated each year on Anzac Day, reverberates with importance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the battle – which was minor against the scale of the First World War and cost less than a sixth of the Australian deaths on the Western Front – are often forgotten or obscured. Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.