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ANZAC Cove A Sacred Place In Australian History: Costello

Speeches by Federal Treasurer Peter Costello at the ANZAC Day services at Gallipoli, Turkey.

5.30am – Dawn Service at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.

Peter CostelloAs we stand here, with the light about to break, we wonder what they must have felt as they looked out from their landing ships and thought about what lay before them.

They were volunteers. They were young. They were half a world away from their homes. And the balance of their lives lay before them.

They would have been anxious, nervous, frightened yet exhilarated. Many had joined up out of a sense of adventure. And now the landing was about to begin. How would it go for them? And how would it go for the men of the ANZAC Corps?

The first shots would have shattered any illusions they had about war.

One of the men who carried the wounded described it as: "one of the roughest places on God’s earth". Their foe controlled the heights. They soon became acquainted with suffering and death. There was nothing glorious about it. It was awful and it was wretched.

The ANZACs would never command the heights which were the key to controlling the Peninsula. They met a well organised and brilliantly commanded defence. They dug in against impossible odds and held it. When they successfully withdrew, over 8,000 had lost their lives. They were young. They had everything to live for but they died in the service of their country and their fellow citizens.

Before that day in April 1915 few Australians would have known the name Gallipoli. But even now, 88 years later, it is a name we cannot forget.

What the men could not have known that fateful day in 1915 was how their deeds would impress themselves on the identity of a nation.

The Argus newspaper in December 1915 quoted Major General James McCay declaring: "…the first sacred spot in the history of Australia was the ANZAC beach and the heights above it."

And so we come to this sacred spot to pay homage. We come to pay homage to them – the original ANZACs – and to pay homage to the nation and its ideals which they helped to create.

Until ANZAC the story of Australia had been the story of settlement, of colony and federation. Federation provided the constitutional basis for a nation. But ANZAC gave that nation a consciousness of itself – the knowledge that Australians were distinct and different, and now proud:- with their own feats of courage and their own history on the international stage.

These are the men of ANZAC, sons, brothers, husbands, mates who had a common purpose, who had courage in the face of extremity, who suffered with a generous acceptance, who had a belief in their cause but a sense of proportion. Despite the privation, and despite the carnage, they came to honour and respect their foe. And their foe honoured and respected them. Turkey too found a new sense of nationhood under a new national leader who fought here at Gallipoli.

ANZACs would go on to much greater military success in the 1914-18 War in Palestine and the fields of France. Our servicemen and women would later distinguish themselves in the Pacific and Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts closer to home. Even today young Australian men and women are serving in theatres of war. Let us remember them.

But we keep coming back to this place. This is the place that will live forever in the mind and the soul of every Australian.

Today there are many young Australians here. Like their great grandfathers and great great grandfathers they have travelled half a world away from their homes to be here today out of love of their country. They want to pay homage and to take something of the ideals that were established here that day in 1915. They want the ideals of ANZAC to inspire and nourish them again. And they want the legacy never to be forgotten.

For Australians this is a sacred place. As long as there are Australians this place and what happened here will not be forgotten.

10.30am – Lone Pine Memorial, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.

We stand in a place of solemn remembrance. We think of the fallen resting in their graves. We see their headstones. We see their names, each one a life full of hope and possibility cut down before its time.

But there are those who lie in the ground and in the sea – where they fell. Those whose graves are indistinguishable from the sand, water and soil that claimed them. 4, 228 Australians and 708 New Zealanders with no known graves are commemorated at this memorial.

Lone Pine was a place of particular carnage and bravery. It has been said that the dead were so thick on the ground that the only respect that could be shown was to avoid treading on their faces.

Lone Pine was one of a series of diversionary attacks. It was an exercise in putting oneself in harms way for the benefit of other soldiers. It was not a task sought by Australians, but it was one they discharged with unrivalled heroism.

This is a Cathedral to courage.

Of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians during the Gallipoli campaign, seven were awarded to Australians during the fighting here. Five VCs were awarded on one day alone – 9 August.

The first Lone Pine VC was awarded to Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor. For two days he threw back grenades. Some he caught in mid air.

It is hard to imagine chaos here, where now there is order. The foe prevailed. The dead were buried or lay where they fell.

The guns did not stop here at Gallipoli until the complete withdrawal of the Imperial Forces on the nights of 18 and 19 December 1915. The withdrawal was an entire success. Not a single life was lost.

Company Quarter Master Sergeant A.L. Guppy wrote in his diary on the day of withdrawal,


Not only muffled is our tread
To cheat the foe,
We fear to rouse our honoured dead
To hear us go.
Sleep sound, old friends-the keenest smart
Which, more than failure, wounds the heart,
Is thus to leave you-thus to part,
Comrades, farewell!!

The spirit that was forged here has inspired generations of Australians. Other Australian servicemen and women have fought with similar valour. But this site is, in our imaginings, its home.

The young soldiers that fell here were full of passion, spirit and love. And so they will always remain.

We remember the families, the parents, the wives, and the children – those who live until they die, with the pangs of loss. For those left behind, it was often the small things from which they took comfort – a badge or button from a uniform or the last letter received.

We stand here to honour sacrifice. We do so because sacrifice is an uncommon virtue. And a virtue that we, successive generations of Australians can take from and learn from and in a much smaller way return.

It is difficult to leave those who have paid so high a price.

In spirit Australia has never left this site. And we never will.

Australia will never forget its fallen.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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