This is the text of the speech delivered at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, by the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill.
Speech by Defence Minister Robert Hill at Lone Pine, Gallipoli.
We gather at this now peaceful spot to honour all those who served and those who never returned from battlefields like these. On this day we remember the loss of so many Australians and the grief that their deaths caused in so many homes.
Lone Pine has a special place in the hearts of Australians. At this place some of the harshest fighting of the Gallipoli campaign took place. Given a near impossible task, the ANZACs managed to capture this position, though at a dreadful cost.
The attack tied up significant Turkish forces and incidentally helped our friends from New Zealand who were attempting to take Chunuk Bair, just a few kilometres north of here.
It is indicative of the bravery shown here that seven Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australian soldiers Attacking on the evening of the 6th August, the Australians arrived at this position to find trenches covered by heavy pine logs and earth. Heaving off these covers with strength born of desperation, they fought their way down into the darkness. There, fighting hand-to-hand, they took the trenches. For four days the Turkish defenders launched wave after wave of counter attacks, but were unable to retake this ground.
In those few days over 7000 men were killed, 2000 of them Australian. Regardless of their nationality, they poured their lives into this earth and for all of us here today it is sacred ground.
United by shared loss, there are now no enemies here.
Lone Pine has another significance for ANZACs. This memorial commemorates the almost 5000 Australians and New Zealanders who fought in this campaign and who have known no grave, or who were buried at sea. They were the first of the missing who have not returned to the lands of their birth. Many have followed them.
Yet some of them did return. In the cemetery today we see growing a pine tree descended from a pinecone recovered from the battlefield. From this source trees were grown for sites of remembrance throughout Australia. These trees are now a living symbol of the link between this place of sacrifice and our responsibility to preserve the legacy of those who died.
We come here today not just to remember those who fell at Gallipoli, but those who have served in other theatres of conflict – in Flanders, New Guinea, El Alamein, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Let us also not forget those who currently serve, be it in East Timor, Iraq or the Solomon Islands. The ANZAC spirit that sustained those men 89 years ago is alive within our current defence forces.
As we stand here today and look back, we are shocked and appalled at the terrible suffering that characterised the Gallipoli campaign as well as much of the last century. Indeed the last century was the bloodiest that humanity has ever seen.
Yet this period of great suffering need not lead us to think that a more peaceful world is not possible. It would be a tragedy if the sacrifices of past generations were squandered.
Today the world is as close as it has ever been to a global community. A commitment to work tirelessly for it to be a peaceful community would be the greatest legacy we can offer the ANZACs.
Our one-time Turkish adversaries are now our allies and friends. They care for the ANZACs who lie in this place as if they were their own. For that we will be ever grateful.
We now have a relationship of mutual respect with Turkey, from which we can jointly share the pain of the past and work cooperatively together for a better future. It’s a good example of what can be achieved between nations. Before we leave here today, let us remember the ones that did not return home. They will never be forgotten. May they rest in peace.