An Australian flag is placed by the graves of fallen servicemen as Turkish security personnel walk at the Anzac Cove cemetery and memorial site on the beach in Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, Thursday, April 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Pilgrims in silent reflection for diggers

More than 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders are sitting in reverence on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula, as a formal ceremony begins to honour the diggers who fought and fell there a century ago.

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

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

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.”

People attend the dawn service in Anzac Cove in commemoration of the Gallipoli War on the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula early on April 25, 2015. AFP Photo/Tolga Bozoglu.

People attend the dawn service in Anzac Cove in commemoration of the Gallipoli War on the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula early on April 25, 2015. AFP Photo/Tolga Bozoglu.

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.”

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.

Mr Abbott said every Australian had a duty to the Anzacs.

“They did their duty, now let us do ours. They gave us an example, now let us be worthy of it. They were as good as they could be in their time. Now, let us be as good as we can be in ours.”

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.

 

Source AAP. 

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