Thousands turned out across Australia on Saturday morning for dawn services commemorating the 100th anniversary of the doomed WW1 campaign at Gallipoli, an event viewed by many as the nation\’s foundational myth.
The battle on Turkey\’s Gallipoli peninsula was one of the bloodiest of the Great War, as thousands of soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were cut down by machinegun and artillery fire as they struggled ashore on a narrow beach.
The fighting would eventually claim more than 130,000 lives, 87,000 of them on the Ottoman side, before the Turks finally repulsed the poorly-planned Allied campaign.
The national day of remembrance began before dawn with a service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, as Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Alan Patterson from the Royal Australian Navy playing a dirge on the Didgeridoo in the cold early darkness.
Chaplain Group Captain Peter Friend followed a hymn with a reading in remembrance of Australia\’s veterans.
"We who are gathered here today in this dawn vigil remember with gratitude the men and women who have given, and are still giving, in our armed and supporting services, all that is theirs to give, in order that the world may be a nobler place in which to live," he said.
"And with them, we remember those left behind to bear the sorrow of their loss."
In Sydney, tens of thousands turned out on Martin Place, and military bagpipers played just blocks from where a gunman and two of his hostages were killed last year when police stormed a cafe to end a deadly hostage siege.
Gallipoli has become a site of pilgrimage for visitors who honor their nations\’ fallen in graveyards halfway around the world on ANZAC Day every April 25.
Thousands of Australians, New Zealanders and Turks gathered there to mark the anniversary amid heightened security.
Last week more than 200 police were involved in a series of raids in the Australian city of Melbourne that led to the arrest of five teens alleged to have been plotting an Islamic State-inspired attack on events to mark the centenary.
SOURCE – REUTERS