Anzac Day Dawn Service, Commemorative Address, Gallipoli, Türkiye

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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25 April 2024

109 years ago; on this day, at this time, at this place, the spirit of Anzac was born. 

Millions of Australians and New Zealanders have already risen this morning to attended services across our nations – to pay their respects, to express their gratitude and to identify with an intangible that they would describe as the spirit of Anzac. That spirit has its source in the events that occurred right here in 1915 at this cove, on this peninsula. 

On the day itself, the spirit of Anzac did not lie in the grand strategy. 

The reasons for the Anzacs being here were unlikely. The rationale not deeply understood by many. 

And it did not lie in the tactics of the day, which had intended for the landing to occur at a different place. 

The spirit of Anzac lay with the men in their small boats on the dark, moonless night as they silently rode to shore. And it could be found in a spirit of adventure. It most certainly was found in an irrepressible sense of humour in the face of great adversity. 

But more so, it was found in a steely determination to do proud to the name of Australia which, in some respects, was just fourteen years old. 

Most significantly, it was found in a gentle hand upon a trembling knee of a terrified mate sitting alongside. 

Because the spirit of Anzac is selfless. It is about the other. It is about being there for each other. It is about the levelling, the fair, the unbreakable and the precious bond which we all share as Australians. 

On that day, amongst the troops there were four brothers; Gordon, Selwyn, George and Arthur Curlewis. Gordon and Selwyn would be dead within three weeks. Arthur lost his life at Lone Pine in August.  Only George returned to Australia. 

The tragedy of the Curlewis family spoke to a greater pain that was being felt across the country. 

Almost 9,000 Australians lost their lives at Gallipoli, 60,000 in the entirety of the First World War, another 150,000 were injured. 

You cannot visit a town of more than 200 people in our country, without seeing in it a monument to those who served and died in the First World War. While those remembrances are ageing, they are still there. 

Look at the names. Look at the number of names in such small places. Every single Australian was impacted. 

And in the early years the Commonwealth, this was a scar which rippled across time and down through the generations in ways, which in turn, form part of the spirit of Anzac. 

This profound sacrifice asked a sharp question: what was it all for? 

And as the years have passed the answer lies less in the outcomes of the First World War, as it does in the revelation of the spirit of Anzac. 

Why would it be, that at the third charge of The Nek, during the Gallipoli campaign in August of that year, when the first two charges had gone so horribly wrong – where men were mown down by machine guns as they left the trench. Four out of five killed or wounded without the loss of a single Turkish life – how could it be that in that moment, men were lying about their injuries, clambering to get to the front and seeking to be a part of it, in full knowledge of the inevitable and futile consequence?

Because for those men, how could it be that a fate for some was not a fate for all. How could you allow a mate to jump out of the trench, without jumping out beside him? 

Because this was not about the Turks. This was about them. It was about us. This was the spirit of Anzac. A bond levelling, fair, unbreakable and precious. 

This spirit has been on display over the last 12 months in a difficult and tragic year for the Australian Defence Force. 

It was also on display in 1996 when Lynne Beavis, an off duty nurse, ran into the Broad Arrow Cafe in the darkest, most terrifying moment, to help those who had been shot and wounded at Port Arthur. 

And it was on display when Inspector Amy Scott faced the terror at Bondi just two weeks ago. 

This spirit has shone brightly in the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform throughout our history, in conflicts large and small. In which 103,000 people have made the ultimate sacrifice. 

This spirit of Anzac was born in this place, at this time, on this day, 109 years ago. 

Lest We Forget.

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