Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

100th Anzac commemorations: We remember them

Our countdown begins to the 100-year anniversary of the Anzac landings on Gallipoli Peninsula.
Training becomes reality. The landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, taken by Lyell Tatton of the Wellington Battalion. Photo / Wairarapa Archive
Training becomes reality. The landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, taken by Lyell Tatton of the Wellington Battalion. Photo / Wairarapa Archive

As dawn broke on April 25, 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps began landing at an isolated 700m stretch of beach on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

This year, on that same date, 10,500 people will gather near that beach, Anzac Cove, to mark the 100-year anniversary of the landing.

The bloody and harrowing campaign at Gallipoli is New Zealand's most significant military battle.

It was our first full engagement in World War I and an event that helped to forge our national identity.

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As the northern bank of the Dardanelles strait, Gallipoli was of huge strategic importance. Control of the strait was crucial to providing a maritime supply line to the Russian Empire. With the Turks and Germans dominant in control of the area, Russia asked the Allies for help.

After a naval attack on the strait failed, military leaders decided to attack the peninsula with a combined force of British, French, Indian, Australian and New Zealand troops.

The Allies made an ignominious withdrawal 8 months later.

The date of the landing is remembered as Anzac Day, and it helped define the national identity of New Zealand and its transtasman neighbour.

By the end of the campaign, New Zealand had suffered a heavy loss, with 2779 fallen soldiers, approximately a fifth of those who served, and 5212 wounded.

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Just over 1000 New Zealanders are making the trip to Gallipoli for the 100-year anniversary and will attend the dawn service at 5.30am (2.30pm NZT).

It is one of a number of commemorative services planned.

On April 24, the Turkish International Service will be held, followed by a Commonwealth and Ireland Memorial Service at the Cape Helles Memorial, a Commonwealth shrine for the whole Gallipoli campaign and a place of commemoration for the many servicemen who died on the peninsula and have no known grave.

A French service will also be held at Morto Bay, the memorial for those who served for France. It has 3236 graves, and four ossuaries containing the bones of 12,000 unidentifiable soldiers.

On Anzac Day, the main dawn service will be followed by the Australian memorial ceremony at Lone Pine.

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The Battle of Lone Pine was one of the most famous assaults of the Gallipoli campaign and resulted in more than 2000 Australian casualties.

At 1.45pm (10.45pm NZT), a New Zealand service will be held at Chunuk Bair, the site of one of our troops' most epic stands on the peninsula.

VIPs attending the commemorations will include Prime Minister John Key, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Prince Charles, Prince Harry and other dignitaries and military leaders.

"At these commemorations," said Mr Key, "we'll be honouring [the troops'] sacrifice and remembering all New Zealand veterans of conflict."

- NZ Herald

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