Anzac Commemoration: 100 Years

Anzac Day 2015

This weekend has been an important day to New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey.

On 25 April, 1915, the British (and their allies) decided to invade the peninsular overlooking the Dardenelle Straights to enable their ships access the Black Sea after the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Alliance.

On this day, young New Zealand and Australian soldiers were sent to capture strategic targets on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This was a very grim battle, with the Ottoman Empire defending their lands, under the command of Kemal Atatürk, now celebrated as  the Father of Turkey.

Losses were heavy on both sides, and after 8 months, the troops withdrew without securing the initial goals.

This year, marking 100 years since, has been important to New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey, with services to commemorate all the soldiers killed in this tragic and futile campaign.

The affect on New Zealand (and Australia) was that many of the young men were killed, and are now buried in Turkey.

Thus, a strong bond was forged between New Zealand and Australia, and also with Turkey.

Anzac Day has widened to commemorate all Australian and New Zealand servicemen, particularly those who never returned home to family and loved ones, and for those from elsewhere in the world.

And also for those service men and women who are currently serving.

“They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

(From “For the Fallen” by Robert Binyin, 1914)

Inscription from the  Atatürk Memorials (Australia and New Zealand) and the Ari Burnu Cemetery (Turkey)

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.”

Here are a few shots from Anzac night at the Auckland Museum – there were TV projections on the wings (Gallipoli Service replay, archival photos, WWI TV drama trailer (with an appearance by on of my sons), the building lit with red lights symbolising poppies, the Cenotaph Memorial, and field of crosses.

This year, my niece and her husband (both serving officers in the Royal Australian Army) were at a service at Fraser Island (Australia) for the Anzac service commemorating the Hosiptal Ship “Maheno” on which served my brother-in-law’s great uncle, a very special and personal remembrance.

Lest we Forget.

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