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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21719

Address at Anzac Day Dawn Service Gallipoli

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 25/04/2005

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 21719

Ninety years ago, as dawn began to break, the first sons of a young nation assailed these shores. These young Australians, with their New Zealand comrades, had come to do their bit in a maelstrom not of their making.

Over eight impossible months, they forged a legend whose grip on us grows tighter with each passing year. In the hills, ridges and gullies above us the Anzacs fought, died, dug in and hung on. Here they won a compelling place in the Australian story. Today we remember the 50,000 Australians who served in the Gallipoli campaign. And the more than 26,000 who fell or were wounded here. We remember, too, the sons of New Zealand who died and suffered. And let us not forget the sons of Britain, France, India, Newfoundland and of course Turkey, who died in their countless thousands on this peninsula.

Gallipoli began our involvement in a cataclysm that would cut down the youth not only of Australia but of many countries across the world. Nearly two thirds of the 330,000 Australians who served abroad in the Great War would become casualties. Sixty thousand would never see Australia again. We remember today a century of Australian sacrifice, the more than 100,000 Australians who have died in war and for peace in our name. From Villers Bretonneux to Tobruk, Kokoda to Long Tan and Afghanistan.

Those who fought here in places like Quinn's Post, Pope's Hill and the Nek changed forever the way we saw our world and ourselves. They bequeathed Australia a lasting sense of national identity. They sharpened our democratic temper and our questioning eye towards authority. We used to say that the ranks of the original Anzacs were thinning with each passing year. They are all gone now. Now what swells with each Anzac season is a hunger for their stories. Now we remember them not as old soldiers but as young Australians, often from the same suburbs, streets, districts and towns that we come from. Just as many of you have come here today with your brothers and your mates, so it was 90 years ago that the young of Australia surged forward to enlist along with their brothers and their mates.

We imagine young men swimming amidst death and danger, anything to escape the heat, the fatigue, the flies and the lice. We think especially this morning of the families broken here and in other foreign fields. James and Janet Hallahan of Western Australia sent four sons to the Great War. Three never came home. One of them, Wally, survived Gallipoli and the Western Front only to be killed in the final exchanges of November 1918.

History helps us to remember but the spirit of Anzac is greater than a debt to past deeds. It lives on in the valour and the sacrifice of young men and women that ennoble Australia in our time, in scrub in the Solomons, in the villages of Timor, in the deserts of Iraq and the coast of Nias. It lives on through a nation's easy familiarity, through Australians looking out for each other, through courage and compassion in the face of adversity.

And so we dedicate ourselves at this hour, at this place, not just to the memory of Anzac but to its eternal place in the Australian soul. Soon we go to Lone Pine where the names of almost half of our Gallipoli casualties are recorded. One of them buried there is Noel Edwards of Bendigo, who took part in that charge against Turkish trenches.

Before heading into 'No Mans Land', Noel shared a meal with his two mates-Gil Dyett and Curly Symons. Gil was severely wounded in the attack; Curly was to win a Victoria Cross; Noel fell at the place the Turks called the Ridge of Blood. After the war, Noel's mother Harriett penned some words that evoke the painful loss of life's promise. That echo down the ages and remind us why we are here:

How shall I miss him - when from overseas The Anzacs come 'mid shouts of victory; When eager voices answering smiles awake, And hands press hands for old remembrance sake. Full many a face will wear a mask of joy, With heartstrings aching for the absent boy.

In our time-and for all time-we will remember them. [ends]

Transcript 21719