The Royal Australian Navy helicopter frigate HMAS Anzac represented Australia at the Centenary of Anzac commemorative events at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.
The Gallipoli campaign is rightly remembered for the sacrifices made by the members of the Australian Imperial Forces (the forebear of the Australian Army), and Anzac’s presence at Gallipoli also paid tribute to the role played by the officers and sailors of the Royal Australian Navy, alongside that played by the members of the forces of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, India and Turkey.
The Australian Navy was ‘first in and last out’ of the Australian forces, with the first success of the Allied campaign being the penetration of the Dardanelles by HMAS AE2 in the early hours of 25 April 1915, and the last to evacuate being the members of the Bridging Train on 28 December 1915 – eight days after the evacuation of Anzac Cove.
HMAS Anzac’s day started with being the second ship in a convoy of 11 participating in a sail-past of Anzac Cove at dawn.
Members of Anzac’s ship’s company lined the sides of the ship, paying solemn respect to the original ANZACs, and the 102,000 Australians who have died in the service of their country in the century since.
Later that morning Anzac sat off the Gallipoli coastline, providing a backdrop to the Australian service being conducted at Lone Pine. At the same time Anzac held its own service conducted by the ship’s chaplain, Chaplain Rainer Schack, with members of ship’s company providing readings and Anzac’s detachment from the Royal Australian Navy band sang hymns and the national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.
In her address, Anzac’s Commanding Officer, Commander Belinda Wood, provided some insight into what it might have been like for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who landed at Gallipoli in the early hours of 25 April 1915, and throughout the campaign that lasted some eight months.
“They were the bravest of young men, but almost all were inexperienced soldiers, attempting the most difficult of operations, an amphibious landing against a well defended coast.
“Their well trained and armed Turkish opponents were dug in and fighting on their own soil, determined to defend their homeland from invasion.
“The loss of life and casualties suffered at Gallipoli had no parallel in the history of Australia and New Zealand at that time,” Commander Wood said.
“The Gallipoli campaign lasted for eight months of bitter and bloody fighting on the steep hillsides and narrow gullies of the Peninsula.
“More than 21,200 British, 10,000 French, 8,700 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders, 1,350 Indians and 49 Newfoundlanders lost their lives in Gallipoli.
“The Gallipoli Peninsula is also revered by the Turkish people. Among a quarter of a million casualties, at least 87,000 Turkish soldiers died on the peninsula defending their homeland against the invasion of the Allied forces.”
After the conclusion of the service, Commander Wood made an individual presentation of a ship’s coin to each member of ship’s company, as a keepsake for their participation in the Centenary of Anzac events.
For Able Seaman Rylan Painter, being onboard Anzac at Gallipoli was especially significant due to his great grandfather having been part of the Gallipoli campaign.
“My great grandfather and his twin brother both landed at Gallipoli and fought there, but unfortunately only my great grandfather survived.
“Seeing the lights of the service at Anzac Cove as we sailed past at dawn, and the early morning light as the sun was rising behind the Peninsula, I couldn’t help but to think of the experiences that my great grandfather had there – both fighting, and losing his twin,” Able Seaman Painter said.
For Able Seaman Tiffany Mitchell the significance of being at Anzac Cove increased during the voyage from Australia.
“About two weeks before we arrived in Turkey, during our transit of the Red Sea, I discovered that my great grandfather had served at Gallipoli.
“I did not know that my Great Grandfather had been at Gallipoli — I didn’t even know he had been in the war.
“My mother found out from my grandmother just a couple of weeks ago that he had been at Gallipoli, so being here now is more special that it was before,” Able Seaman Mitchell said.
“The Gallipoli Peninsula is a beautiful coastline, and it is hard to imagine the horrors of war with so many people on both sides killed and injured.”
Later in the day, the ship’s company partook in some traditional Anzac Day two-up, before getting back to work for a transit to Istanbul, where Anzac will undertake international engagement activities in support of her NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment.
Additional imagery is available at: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20151132.