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Article - ANZAC Day and the history of the ANZAC biscuit

Lest We Forget
ANZAC Day is the anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, in World War I on April 25, 1915. The bravery of all military personnel who participated in this campaign and the lives of those who died in all military actions are remembered.

In the early months of 1915, World War I was raging in most of Europe, including the Ottoman empire in the geographical area that is now Turkey. Russian troops were fighting on many fronts, particularly against troops from Germany and the Ottoman and Austro -Hungarian empires. At dawn on April 25, 1915, forces from France, Great Britain and the British Empire, including Australia and New Zealand, landed at a number of places on the Gallipoli peninsula. The campaign aimed to open up new fronts for the Allied forces and a trade route to Russia.
In the ensuing battle, many lives were lost on both sides and the Allied forces did not succeed in opening a trade route to Russia. The last ANZAC forces withdrew from the Gallipoli Peninsula by December 20, 1915, in a successful operation with very few casualties. In spite of their losses, the ANZAC servicemen and many Australians and New Zealanders saw this battle as the start of the ANZAC spirit. This Australasian ideal was based on the "mateship" and cheerful suffering in the face of adversity shown by the forces during this campaign.
ANZAC Day is now a public holiday in Australia and day of remembrance in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga. It is also commemorated with special services and events on or around April 25 in a range of countries across the globe. These include: the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Canada and the United States (including Hawaii).

The history behind the ANZAC biscuit
The sweet ANZAC biscuits that we know and love today, originating from World War I, are in fact a derivative of the hard-tack soldier’s biscuit that was consumed in the battlefields (and the two are commonly confused). The ANZAC biscuits are thought to have been carefully created by a team of women on the home-front who were searching for a solution for a biscuit that could be easily transported to their men on the frontline in care/comfort packs. It was important that the biscuits, made from carefully selected ingredients, didn’t spoil during the long voyage, were readily available and delivered good nutrition (hence the inclusion of golden syrup and the exclusion of eggs & butter traditional used in biscuit cookery). The biscuits were packed into tins, sometimes billy tea tins, to keep them airtight and stop them from spoiling.
It is also believed that the sweeter ‘ANZAC biscuit’ recipe is a celebration of the love and compassion shown from the home-front during that time. The care packs which contained the original biscuits, remain part of our military tradition today. To this day the ANZAC biscuit represents more than a just biscuit, but are part of an iconic tradition that has passed down through the generations of Australians and New Zealanders. It is just another way that stories of our past can be shared, and a reminder of the ANZAC legacy and spirit that is never to be forgotten – lest we forget.

The following is an original recipe provided by Bob Lawson, an Anzac present at the Gallipoli landing:

1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats, and coconut
4 oz (125g) butter
1 tbls treacle (golden syrup)
2 tbls boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

1.     Grease biscuit tray and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2.     Combine dry ingredients.
3.     Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bicarbonate soda, and add to butter mixture.
4.     Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
5.     Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray, allowing room for spreading.
6.     Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
Source: From Robin McLachlan, Anthea Bundock & Marie Wood, Discovering Gallipoli: research guide (Bathurst, NSW: Times Past Productions for the Australian War Memorial, 1990)

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