Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders, many braving heavy rain, turned out Tuesday to mark the Gallipoli landing and to pay tribute to soldiers in current conflict zones in moving ceremonies.
Ceremonies are held annually on the April 25 anniversary of the ill-fated 1915 landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in modern-day Turkey during World War I.
More than 10,000 New Zealand and Australian servicemen died in the failed eight-month campaign, and Gallipoli became a defining symbol of courage and comradeship for the two countries.
Dawn services also acknowledged the contributions of troops currently serving in the Middle East, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited camps in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Like your forebears, 100 years ago, the Anzacs of the First World War, you are here in the Middle East as the Anzacs were,” Turnbull told soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq.
“This time (it’s) the fight against terrorism and you’re on the front line here and I want to thank you… on the eve of Anzac Day for your service.”
The Australian leader also met with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Kabul, who like him was making an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Monday.
There are some 270 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed in Afghanistan and another 780 in the Middle East including Iraq.
In Canberra, Afghanistan veteran Curtis McGrath spoke of how his mates fought to save him after an explosion blew off his legs, and called for “a mighty dust-off” for returning service personnel, using a military term for emergency evacuation, which stands for “dedicated unhesitating service to our fighting forces”.
“May we, as a nation, continue to provide those men and women who have served us with the care they need, dedicated, unhesitating service to our fighting forces, a mighty Australian ‘dust-off’. Lest we forget,” McGrath, now a Paralympian, said.
In Wellington, Governor-General Patsy Reddy said a century ago, New Zealand experienced the most costly year in terms of lives as the Western Front campaign ground on.
“For the bereaved, an Anzac Day service was the nearest thing to a funeral that their loved ones would ever have,” she told a service attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.
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