April 1915 – a short poem on the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day

April 1915

Three weeks before they even knew the word

Gallipoli,

Antipodeans rioted in a Cairo street.

On that April dawn, they climbed those cliffs,

drew courage from fear, willed legs into gear,

and digging deep into that same blind rage,

advanced.

During the afternoon and evening of 2 April 1915 (Good Friday), an estimated 2500 New Zealand and Australian troops rioted in the Haret Al Wassir red-light district of Cairo’s Ezbekieh Quarter. The so-called ‘Battle of the Wazzir’ supposedly started in reprisal for the spread of venereal disease and was not helped by rumours that Egyptian pimps had stabbed soldiers. As is often the case with such events it became an important moment in the ‘unofficial history’ of the Anzacs.

from an account of the incident by John Hanna


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