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“What these men did nothing can alter now. The good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story will stand. Whatever of glory it contains nothing now can lessen. It rises, as it will always rise, above the mists of the ages, a monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation, a possession for ever. The only memorial which could be worthy of them was the bare and uncoloured story of their part in the war.” – Charles Bean, Australian official war historian When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years, and its government was eager to establish a reputation among the nations of the world. When Britain declared war in August 1914 Australia was automatically placed on the side of the Commonwealth. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers had died in the campaign. Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war. Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of Australian and New Zealand forces during the campaign left a powerful legacy. What became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways in which they viewed both their past and their future. Galvanised by the example of courage and sacrifice demonstrated on that bloody battlefield, on every 25th day of April for the past 100 years, “ANZAC Day” has been observed in Australia and New Zealand, becoming an honoured and sacred institution along the way. It is often suggested that the Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in a military routine still followed by the Australian and New Zealand Armies. The half-light of dawn was one of the times favoured for launching an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the “stand-to”. As dusk is equally favourable for battle, the stand-to was repeated at sunset. After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn vigil became the basis for commemoration in several places after the war. In today’s society, the dawn vigil is held all around the world, from places such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, to the United States of America, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Thailand and even Antarctica to name a few. So whilst this day marks a significant chapter in Australia and New Zealand’s histories, one still being written today, I would encourage everyone of all the nations to take the time to remember the courage and sacrifices of the men and women of your respective armed services. No matter if it was voluntary or if it is compulsory, remember those that have died in unfailing service to their nation, the veterans who have retired from their service and those who continue to serve today. These men and women have sacrificed, contributed or continue to contribute to ensure that you can be where you are today. In conclusion I leave you with the Ode of Remembrance. 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. Lest We Forget Panoramic view of the Dardanelles fleet Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Anzac in station with New Zealand, Turkish, British, and French warships as they conduct a silent sail past towards the Dardenelles, in memory of the journey once sailed by those before them, during the 2015 ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Gallipoli Cove. Information provided by the Australian War Memorial and Imperial War Museums. Images courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy.
Those who served throughout our time must be remembered. 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 morningWe will remember them. Lest We Forget Be them Ground, Air or Sea, they should all be respected. For those who are serving, my best of hopes for a safe setting.