New Zealanders turn out in record numbers to honour war dead

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New Zealanders turn out in record numbers at a dawn service honouring their war dead in an emotional tribute on the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.

New Zealanders turn out in record numbers to honour war dead

New Zealanders turn out in record numbers to honour war dead

/ Wellington (New Zealand) – 25 April 2015 03:52 – AFP

New Zealanders turned out in record numbers at dawn services on Saturday to honour their war dead in emotional tributes on the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at war memorials around the country for services, which will also be held in Australia and Turkey, to mark the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on Turkish soil on April 25, 1915.

More than 10,000 Australian and New Zealand servicemen died in the campaign which failed in its military objectives but gave rise to the legacy of courage and close friendship that binds the two countries.

The Anzac forces continue to work together with New Zealand and Australian troops leaving earlier this month for Iraq where they will train local soldiers fighting jihadists, including the Islamic State group.

The New Zealand and Australian governors general, Jerry Mateparae and Peter Cosgrove, joined 20,000 people for the dawn service at New Zealand’s national war memorial in Wellington before flying immediately to Australia for services there.

Anzac Day affirmed “the qualities we prize: courage, compassion and comradeship, qualities which were displayed by our troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula and by our armed forces in subsequent conflicts,” Mateparae said.

Gallipoli was “the beginning of an eight-month ordeal, an experience which was to be a turning point in the history of this nation.”

The nine-month battle saw German-backed Ottoman forces resist the Allied troops trying to seize the peninsula on the western edge of Turkey to break through to take Constantinople and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

The Turkish ambassador to New Zealand, Damla Yesim Say, said Gallipoli was “living and flourishing proof that nations can and should reconcile their differences.

“As we remember our forefathers together, we mark Gallipoli as the seminal event that established the friendship between Turkey and New Zealand.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who is attending centennial commemorations at Gallipoli, said that 100 years on “we stand proud as a modern multicultural nation as we remember the sacrifice and fortitude of our forebears.”

A French Senate delegation attended the Wellington commemoration along with the mayor of Arras where a series of medieval tunnels were expanded by the New Zealand forces and became central to allied forces holding the city in World War I.

“France remains grateful to New Zealand for the sacrifices her people made to take part in the fight leading to the liberation of our country,” French Ambassador Florence Jeanblanc-Risler said.

In a message from Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the ANZAC spirit “defined by endurance, courage, and mateship” lived on.

END

Tags : Dead, honour, Numbers, record, turn, Zealanders

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