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ANZAC: One hundred years after Gallipoli

  • April 25th, 2015
  • Posted by EU Australia

anzac ceremony anzac beachHuge crowds have attended Anzac Day commemorations around the World, on the centenary of the ill-fated landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula, 25.4.15.

Ahead of the event at Anzac Cove, these began in New Zealand, then at the National War Memorial in Canberra, where an Aboriginal man, Able Seaman Alan Paterson from the Australian Navy, played the didgeridoo to open the Dawn Service.

Anzacs Western Front Villers b A throng of 120 000 turned out in Canberra, against 80 000 a year ago; more than 6000 were gathering around the Australian monument at Villers Brettoneux on the Western Front (picture); numbers were up in the same way at the hundreds of parades in England, at Australian Army outposts in the Middle East, and suburbs and towns around the country.

At Gallipoli, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking before 20 visiting government leaders, dedicated the day to peace.

“I hope that Canakkale, (the Dardanelles), will serve as an example to all the world’s people, to transform our shared pain into a tool for promoting fraternity, love and peace – a remedy against terrorism, racism, Islamophobia and hatred”, he said.

The guests included the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key; but not the French and Russian Presidents, Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin, who had endorsed another centenary commemoration for 1915, the Armenian genocide – a gross crime always denied by Turkey.

Tony Abbott, who had called on Australians to parade in repudiation of a terrorist threat to such gatherings, said the Anzac troops who landed some 14 years after their own countries’ independence, had been “founding heroes”.

Britain was represented by a junior cavalry officer recently serving in Australia, Captain Henry Wales, Prince Harry, and his father, Prince Charles.

anzac turkey film anzac film 2Crowds who’d sat through a cold early morning at the memorial site around Anzac Cove, included wives and other relatives of combatants, from both sides of the conflict, private citizens who’d won a place in a public ballot, and droves of young back-packers.

Warships loitering a few kilometres off the beach, like their predecessors in the Dardanelles campaign, included the Anzac class Frigates Anzac and Te Kaha, French and Turkish ships, and the Royal Navy flagship, Bulwark.

The Dardanelles campaign commenced as a naval thrust into the Sea of Marmara, by French and British forces (including the Anzacs), in an attempt to relieve the Russian allies on the Eastern Front. After that failed the amphibious assault was made at Gallipoli, in an attempt to clear the way through by capturing Constantinople (Istanbul).

The Australian and New Zealand Divisions were brigaded as a single Corps for that campaign, hence the name.

It became a contest of the trench warfare then also getting established on the battlefields in Belgium and France, very costly in lives.

war-graves1Total deaths came to 131 000 by the time the allies withdrew, 86 000 Turkish, 45 000 allied. The Australians and New Zealanders lost 11 400 together, Britain 25 000 and France 10 000.

It foreshadowed the years of war that would follow. The tragedy of it, in lost loved ones, severe physical and mental impairment, reaching deep into the minds and hearts of peoples – no street in any town or suburb without its families directly affected.

In all, over 60 000 Australians and over 14 000 New Zealanders died in the First World War.

Archive Pictures