Gallipoli dawn service: 'This is where the legend was born'

Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of...
Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. Photo by Reuters.
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks during a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary...
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks during a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. Photo by Reuters.

Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of...
Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. Photo by Reuters.
More than 10,000 New Zealanders and Australians sat in reverence on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula today, for the formal ceremony to honour the soldiers who fought and fell there a century ago.

A vast sea of pilgrims from both nations gathered at the Anzac Commemorative Site to mark the 100th anniversary of the bloody Gallipoli landings.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, Prince Charles and Prince Harry were among those in attendance.

Mr Key told the gathering of the challenges the Anzacs faced as they came ashore on that bloody day a century ago.

"Instead of the open spaces that have been described to them, they landed here with steep hills rising in front of this narrow beach," he said.

He said the opposing forces who set upon one another with such devastating results had something in common - they believed what they were doing was right and necessary, and both sides conducted themselves with courage and bravery.

"The campaign waged here ensured that the name of this place would be written into the histories of New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Turkey and the many other countries that fought here, never to be erased," he said.

He spoke too of the unbreakable bond forged between Australia and New Zealand.

"To us, Gallipoli is also a byword for the best character of Australians and New Zealanders, especially when they work side-by-side in the face of adversity."

Australian defence Force Chief Mark Binskin told the thousands gathered there of the horror the Anzacs were confronted with on the day they came ashore in Turkey a century ago.

"The quiet stillness of dawn and the gentle sound of the waves on this beach gave way to the flash and roar of gunfire over the painful cries of the wounded," he said.

"For so many, the rising sun that day would be their last."

He told too of the fears that gripped the men as they battled to shore under unrelenting gunfire: a fear they would be cut down, as too many were, but also a fear that they might let their mates down.

"This is where the Anzac legend was born at great cost," he said.

"Here, so many died and dreams died with them. Here, they lie in sacred soil. Here, we honour their spirit, the spirit of Anzac which lives among us. Here, we will remember them."

Mr Abbott said a century had passed since Australians and New Zealanders splashed out of the sea and into a terrible conflict that ultimately resulted in an enduring gift.

"In volunteering to serve, they became more than soldiers, they became the founding heroes of modern Australia," he told the gathering.

Prince Charles read the words of Lieutenant Ken Millar, of the 2nd Battalion, who wrote of the grief surviving Anzacs felt as they left their dead mates buried so far from home.

"We lived at Gallipoli with our dead alongside us. Owing to the lack of space our cemeteries were always under our eyes," the digger wrote.

The Australian Army's Monsignor Glynn Murphy then led the gathering in the Prayer of Remembrance, and The Lord's Prayer.

Prince Charles later laid a wreath in memory of the dead, followed by Mr Abbott and Mr Key who jointly laid a tribute in acknowledgment of the bond forged at Gallipoli.

New Zealand's Defence Force Chief Tim Keating then read the Ode of Remembrance, before the Last Post was played, followed by a minute's silence, and finally Reveille.

Kiwis feel 'very privileged' to be at service
Stuart and Allison Nicol from Wellington were "overwhelmed" by the dawn service in Turkey.

Mr Nicol's father Harold served at Gallipoli with the South Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

"I thought I would've soldiered through the service but... I wish he could've been here," an emotional Mr Nicol, 77, said.

"I always meant to come and now I can imagine it as he saw it.

"I have a whole new appreciation of what he went through and I feel this service has paid him and the others a great honour."

Paul and Karen Thurston from Ngaruawahia were impressed by the service.

Mr Thurston said it was nice to see the princes here, and the New Zealand and Australia prime ministers laying a wreath together, showing the "Anzac bond".

His great grandfather Andrew Peters served with Wellington Mounted Rifles at Gallipoli.

To return a century after his long lost relative was a "very humbling experience", he said.

"Bring the centenary and all, I feel very privileged to be here," said Mr Thurston.

"The whole thing lived up to expectations... And then some."

John Key's speech at Gallipoli

On this beach, on this day, at this hour, exactly 100 years ago, the first Anzac troops came ashore.

Instead of the open spaces that had been described to them, they landed here with steep hills rising in front of this narrow beach.

And in those hills, Ottoman Turkish soldiers were already positioned and ready to defend this land.

We New Zealanders rarely think of ourselves as anyone's enemy, or as aggressors.

But that's exactly how those soldiers would have seen the Anzac and other Allied troops on April 25, 1915, and in the grinding months of fighting that followed.

We have coastlines similar to this at home.

If, for a moment, we imagine the situation reversed, we know that New Zealand soldiers would have been willing to lay down their lives to defend their country.

So, of course, were the Ottoman Turks.

Time and the perspective of history have cast the Gallipoli campaign, and some of the military decisions that were made, in a different light.

But 100 years ago, both sides were doing what they believed was right, and what they believed was necessary.

There was something else the Anzac troops landing here at Gallipoli did not know as they first struggled onto this foreign soil.

It was that their bravery and unity would help to forge the Anzac bond and reputation that endures to this day.

I salute that, as I do the bravery of the troops who opposed them, and all those who fought on this peninsula.

The campaign waged here ensured that the name of this place would be written into the histories of New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Turkey, and the many other countries that fought here - never to be erased.

Since then, New Zealanders have fought on many other battlegrounds, with similar courage and tenacity.

Everywhere a New Zealander has died serving our country is part of our history.

As the centenary of the First World War progresses, we will remember many battles in many different places.

But here today on this special anniversary we remember Gallipoli.

The very name is evocative.

Gallipoli to us Kiwis means not only this sea, this beach, these cliffs and the narrows across the hills.

It means the names and stories of more than 2,700 New Zealanders who died here, and the parents, wives and families who grieved for them, and the friends who said goodbye and didn't know it was forever.

To us, Gallipoli is also a byword for the best characteristics of Australians and New Zealanders, especially when they work side by side in the face of adversity.

Gallipoli symbolises too, the pity of war.

Because while this was a place of courage and heroism and duty, it was also a place of fear and waste and loss.

It was a place where soldiers lived in a jumble of trenches, sometimes just metres apart from the opposing side, and constantly under fire.

It was a place of unspeakable suffering on both sides of the fighting.

The generosity of Turkey in welcoming us back here year after year, means that Gallipoli also symbolises the healing power of time, forgiveness and diplomacy.

We are grateful to the Turkish people and the Turkish government.

Each year our hosts accommodate and assist the many Australians and New Zealanders who come to see with their own eyes a special place in our countries' history.

Often it is a special place in their family's history too - where a great-grandfather, or a great-uncle served.

They come to see what he saw with his own eyes, 100 years ago, looking up from this very beach.

Usually at these commemorations we conclude by saying "'Lest we Forget".

But today, witnessed by all of you who have gathered here out of respect and remembrance, I will not say "Lest we forget".

Because after one hundred years we can say, on this day

April 25, Two Thousand and 15,

"We remember".

- NZME. News Service,

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