Thou­sands honor sol­diers 100 years af­ter Gal­lipoli

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DES­MOND BUT­LER

For the first time at age 95, Bill Gray­den has come to Gal­lipoli, where his fa­ther stormed the beach and took a bul­let through his lung dur­ing the ill-fated Bri­tish-led World War I in­va­sion.

Gray­den was among thou­sands of Aus­tralians and New Zealan­ders who made the pil­grim­age from the south­ern hemi­sphere to this dis­tant penin­sula in Turkey. They joined world lead­ers at a dawn ser­vice Satur­day mark­ing ex­actly 100 years since the in­va­sion, which had aimed to se­cure a naval route from the Mediter­ranean to Istanbul through the Dardanelles, and take the Ot­tomans out of the war.

Dur­ing the emo­tional cer­e­mony, the UK’s Prince Charles and the prime min­is­ters of Australia and New Zealand spoke of the hero­ism of the sol­diers from their coun­tries and other Al­lied na­tions.

“For so many, the ris­ing sun that day would be their last,” Australia’s Chief of the De­fence Force, Air Chief Mar­shal Mark Bin­skin, told the crowd of thou­sands gath­ered at An­zac Cove near the land­ing site.

That was not the case for Bill Gray­den’s fa­ther Len. Five days af­ter the land­ing, the el­der Gray­den was found wounded and nearly mo­tion­less on the field. Dur­ing the heat of battle, some­one no­ticed a slight hand move­ment and he was evac­u­ated to a hos­pi­tal ship and ul­ti­mately sur­vived. The sub­tle mo­ment that determined his fate demon­strates how small dif­fer­ences can sub­stan­tially change the course of his­tory.

Len Gray­den would re­turn to Australia to raise a fam­ily. His son Bill later served in mul­ti­ple cam­paigns in World War II and be­came a politi­cian. He has raised 10 chil­dren of his own, 44 grand­chil- dren, 20 great grand­chil­dren and so far one great-great grand­child.

The Gal­lipoli cam­paign also al­tered the course for the coun­tries on both sides of the trenches. The land­ings marked the start of a fierce battle that lasted for eight months. Around 44,000 Al­lied troops and 86,000 Ot­toman sol­diers died. Aus­tralians and New Zealan­ders mark the an­niver­sary of the land­ings ev­ery year as im­por­tant na­tional days of re­mem­brance.

'Found­ing He­roes'

Many of the at­ten­dees at Satur­day’s ser­vice had slept at the com­mem­o­ra­tion site in sleep­ing bags. Most had won the cov­eted tick­ets in na­tional lot­ter­ies.

The tragic fate of troops from Australia and New Zealand is said to have in­spired an iden­tity dis­tinct from the Bri­tish. The an­niver­sary of the start of the land cam­paign on April 25, known as AN­ZAC Day, af­ter the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, is marked as a com­ing of age for both na­tions.

“In vol­un­teer­ing to serve, they be­came more than sol­diers. They be­came the found­ing he­roes of mod­ern Australia,” Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott said at the ser­vice.

The doomed of­fen­sive came to be seen as a folly of Bri­tish war plan­ning. The de­ci­sion to launch the attack nearly ended the ca­reer of Win­ston Churchill, who as First Lord of the Ad­mi­ralty came up with the plan.

Prince Charles spoke about sol­diers who were “tor­mented by the thought of their com­rades be­ing left be­hind” and that their graves would re­main un­vis­ited. He was vis­i­bly moved as he read from pas­sages writ­ten by Lt. Ken Miller of the 2nd Bat­tal­ion and Benjamin Leane of the 10th Bat­tal­ion. Leane had ad­dressed his wife and chil­dren from Gal­lipoli, say­ing that he was not afraid of death or what comes af­ter. He later died in France, never to see them again.

Turk­ish of­fi­cials and sol­diers also took part in the dawn re­mem­brance, part of two days of cer­e­monies at the site of the battle. Gal­lipoli was also im­por­tant in the emer­gence of mod­ern Turkey.

Mustafa Ke­mal Ataturk used his promi­nence as a com­man­der at Gal­lipoli, known as Canakkale to the Turks, to vault into promi­nence, lead Turkey’s War of In­de­pen­dence and ul­ti­mately found the Turk­ish Repub­lic.

Thou­sands marched in Gal­lipoli to honor the sol­diers of the Turk­ish 57th Reg­i­ment, among the first unit to de­fend against the AN­ZAC land­ings, which Ataturk — then Lt. Col. Mustafa Ke­mal — fa­mously com­manded: “I do not or­der you to attack, I or­der you to die.”

In the Turk­ish cap­i­tal Ankara, the mau­soleum of Ataturk was left open through­out the night al­low­ing thou­sands of vis­i­tors to pay their re­spects to their “Gazi” — Ataturk’s hon­orary ti­tle as a vic­to­ri­ous Turk­ish war­rior.

A cen­tury af­ter the smoke cleared from the beaches at Gal­lipoli, of­fi­cials from the coun­tries rep­re­sent­ing both sides of the bat­tles spoke of their re­spect for their for­mer enemies.

New Zealand’s Prime Min­is­ter John Key noted that when the AN­ZAC forces landed, Ot­toman Turks were de­fend­ing their home­land.

AP

(Above) Peo­ple ob­serve a minute of si­lence dur­ing the Dawn Ser­vice cer­e­mony at the An­zac Cove beach on Gal­lipoli Penin­sula, Turkey, early Satur­day, April 25. (Left) The UK’s Queen El­iz­a­beth II, cen­ter, stands with Prince Philip, left, and Prince Wil­liam, right, dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Ceno­taph to com­mem­o­rate AN­ZAC Day and the Cen­te­nary of the Gal­lipoli Cam­paign in White­hall, Lon­don on Satur­day.

AP

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