Anzac Day 2014: Crowds flock to remember fallen

By Cassandra Mason, Kurt Bayer, Brendan Manning

Wreath-bearers at Anzac Cove. Photo / Twitter / British Consul-General
Wreath-bearers at Anzac Cove. Photo / Twitter / British Consul-General

Thousands of New Zealanders and Australians have gathered at Gallipoli to pay tribute to the men who went through 'suffering and horrors' to carry out their duty.

New Zealand Defence Force Major General Arthur David Gawn began the dawn service at Anzac Cove with a call to remembrance.

"Those who landed knew they were on a momentous undertaking ... they had no idea that their name would become legend," he said.

"The legends of those soldiers from another age, on these beaches and ridges that stand witness around us have shaped our nations," Major General Gawn said.

"Those who landed knew that they were on a momentous undertaking, but they had no inkling that their name would become legend.

"As we stand here in the peace and quiet of the early morning, we can cast our minds back to the morning 99 years ago, when the soft sounds of waves on the shore, and the gentle rhythmic splashing of oars of the landing boats were soon drowned out by the cacophony of gun fire, the shouts of orders and the screams of wounded men.

"Now, almost a century later, we come together to acknowledge the deeds of those who served in the Gallipoli campaign and to honour their memory and to reflect on all that they endured. There are great feats conducted here and there are those who straggled. Those who stood by their mates, and a few who let them down.

"We should not judge from the distance of history, just as we cannot imagine the suffering and horrors endured by those who served here."

Major General Gawn, New Zealand's Chief of Army, read from diaries of soldiers who served in Gallipoli.

"After the landing, Lieutenant Colonel Percival Fenwick from Christchurch wrote: '5000 casualties, about three men per yard of ground gained. An order has come out naming this bay Anzac Bay, after the New Zealand and Australian divisions, it does not matter what it's called, perhaps it will some day be known as Bloody Beach Bay, God knows, we have paid heavily for it'.

"This then, is a place of solemn remembrance, of sadness, and of loss. As dawn rises above the ridges, we think back to how it was that morning and to those who have their lives to change our world forever more."

Photos: Anzac Day services: NZ remembers

Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs Senator Michael Ronaldson then spoke, welcoming the crowd gathered and noting that the eerie silence of the new day was an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on those who had lost their lives on the peninsula.

"I can only imagine what these men, the finest of their generation thought and felt as their boats carried them from the safety of their homes and families, to the heart of a global conflict."

Turkish Army 2nd Lieutenant Mehmet Akbas read a quotation by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and was followed by 1st Lieutenant Gokhan Sabancilar.

Those who lost their lives of the shores of Gallipoli became Turkey's sons as well, he said.

The speeches then stopped while a choir and the crowd sang Amazing Grace.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae took to the podium.

"One hundred years ago Europe was headed into what has long been remembered as a golden summer, no one could have foreseen that summer's end would herald one of the darkest periods of our history," he said.

"The First World War cast a long, dark shadow, and ripped our world apart."

Australia's Secretary of Veterans' Affairs Simon Lewis said many Australian and New Zealanders grew up with the stories of heroism displayed by Anzac forces and the stoicism with which they bore hardships.

"Like all history, these stories are multi-faceted, and the full was much more complex and layered, nonetheless, the words of those who served here, written at the time do tell of the most extraordinary acts being undertaken but those who simply did their jobs and did their duty as soldiers."

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Chaplain Lance Lukin then recounted a prayer of remembrance to those gathered.

"God of liberty and love help us this day and in this place to remember the first Anzacs, both Australian and New Zealander and the generations of people who have died in the time of war. In this place help us remember those who bear the pain of war, help us also to remember the widows, girlfriends and parents, orphans, and all those who waited in vain for the return of a loved one."

Royal Australian Airforce Chaplain Kevin Russell then read the Lord's Prayer before wreaths were laid on behalf of all the nations which took part in the Gallipoli campaign as bagpipes played in the background.

Australian Chief of Defence Force General David Hurley then recited the Ode of Remembrance before The Last Post played.

One minute's silence was then observed and Reveille played before the National Anthems of Turkey, NEw Zealand and Australia

US sends Anzac message

Secretary of State John Kerry has sent an Anzac Day message to New Zealand and Australia on behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States.

Mr Kerry issued an Anzac Day statement saying the United States stands with Australians and New Zealanders honouring the Anzac soldiers today "in unwavering support as a true friend and partner."

"This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1 and begins the Anzac Centenary. This milestone not only honours and remembers the original soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who courageously served at Gallipoli and the Western Front in The Great War, but also highlights and commemorates a century of commitment and dedication from the servicemen and women to the nations of Australia and New Zealand," Mr Kerry said in the statement.

"The legacy of these brave and determined individuals and their families is extraordinary and enduring. They continue to represent your countries proudly at home and around the world in support of peace, democracy, and freedom.

"We will never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

Crowds pack in Auckland to remember fallen

Thousands of people assembled outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum this morning to commemorate New Zealand's "contribution to freedom".

The ANZAC Day dawn service opened with the sounds of the wooden Maori trumpet - the pukaea - and the hymn 'Abide with me'.

War veterans marched onto the Court of Honour, and a prayer reminded Kiwis to honour those who died.

"We will remember them as friends, as comrades ... They will grow not old."

Auckland's mayor Len Brown placed a wreath on the cenotaph to remember "all who have fallen, and all who have served".

The service not only recognised the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, but those who have served in all conflicts in which New Zealand has been involved - including those currently deployed overseas.

The crowd was urged to remember their "kinship", "commitment" and "sacrifice".

The sounds of 'The Last Post' echoed around the domain, followed by a minute of silence.

The ode 'For the Fallen' was then recited by two veterans, first in Te Reo and then in English.

The New Zealand flag, alongside Australia's, was hoisted on the roof of the museum as the sky lightened, followed by singing of 'Poppies and Pohutakawa'.

In recognition of fellow ANZACs, the crowd sang the Australian national anthem, followed by ours - in Maori and English.

The veterans then marched off the court to a round of applause and music from the band.

Three horses were part of the part of this morning's service, to honour the thousands killed in war.

More than 10,000 horses served in World War One. Only four returned.

Surprise at Auckland turnout

Krista Taylor, whose grandfathers both served in WW1 and WW2, said she was "gob smacked" to see so many people show up to the service.

"Little kids, getting up at 4am or 5am. It's beautiful to see so many different cultures."

Having just returned from living in France for 18 years, she was used to remembering her ancestors with real poppies.

She'd also visited some of the spots where they'd fought.

Today she laid her artificial poppy at the cenotaph with pride.

"I have my grandfathers' war diaries. They started out as nurses, and didn't even want to hold weapons. They were so eloquent.

"I remember them every week, every day."

Christchurch dawn service

Two thousand people gathered in Christchurch's Cranmer Square for a dawn parade this morning.

Veterans marched in to the hushed park at 6.15am, led by the New Zealand Army Band.

The crowd clapped as the veterans marched in.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel gave a welcome before association wreaths were laid at a makeshift cenotaph topped with wooden cross, in front of two rows of white crosses to represent the 18,200 New Zealanders killed in World War One.

Wreaths were laid by flight lieutenant Steve Heriban of the Royal Australian Air Force, Major General Tim Gall of the NZDF, politicians Nicky Wager MP and Clayton Cosgrove MP, and representatives of the Consular Corps, police, Fire Service, St John and the Merchant Navy.

Peter Dawson, president of the Christchurch RSA dedicated the wreaths "to the memory of those who did not return", not just from WWI, but all wars and conflicts since, including most recently, Afghanistan.

Some of the crowd, and veterans, joined in with singing the national anthem.

Bryan Shankland VRD (Volunteer Reserve Decoration) of the Canterbury Malaya Veterans Association, gave the Anzac remembrance where he paid tribute to the relationship between Kiwi and Australian soldiers.

Today, he said, is about remembering "the sacrifices others have made so we can enjoy the principles and freedoms we have inherited."

After a hymn and reading by the Very Rev. Lynda Patterson, Flight Lieutenant Steve Heriban of the Royal Australian Air Force read the Anzac dedication, composed by Digger L. E. Vernazoni, DCM.

Since the Anzac troops received their baptism of fire at Gallipoli 99 years ago, Anzac has become "one of the immortal names of history", he wrote.

"And now, at this hour, and on this day, it is fitting that we should gather here to honour the memory of those who went to the battlefields of that war, but did not return.

"We pray that their fight, and their sacrifice, may not have been in vain, and that in due season their everlasting memorial may be 'Peace on earth and good will among men'."

The Last Post was played in a rising red dawn.

Binyon's Lines were read by Herbie Timu of the Malayan Veterans Association and Mr Dawson, followed by a volley of gunfire and reveille.

After a full rendition of the national anthem, the parade was dismissed and the general public and community groups were invited to lay their wreaths.

The citizens Anzac Day commemoration service will be held at transitional 'cardboard' cathedral at 10am.

Anzac Day at Scott Base

Anzac Day has also been marked at what has to be one of the coldest locations - Scott Base in Antarctica.

But it's a dawn-less service, with the frozen continent now in darkness.

Speaking from Scott Base ahead of the ceremony, Keith Roberts said it would largely follow the ones held at home, although this year there's a piper.

"I think it's important to conduct a service no matter where you are so Antarctica really is no different. It's important to maintain a presence down here and Anzac Day's one of the ways of doing it.''

- APNZ

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