Turks on ANZACs: ‘They have become our sons as well’

Written by admin on 25/04/2020 Categories: 老域名

Anzac Day Committee Chairperson Mark Judson, guest speaker Maria Buchanan, Committee member, Ron Umbers, youth speaker Meg Hunter, and Parkes Mayor Ken Keith at the Bogan Gate commemoration. Trundle Troop 6th Lighthorse members.

In the dim pre-dawn light, 250 community members gathered at the monument in Bogan Gate to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove.

The Trundle Troop of the 6th Lighthorse presented ‘Eyes Right’ to commence the commemoration.

Bogan Gate Community Anzac Day Committee Chairperson, Mark Judson, opened the ceremony with an insight into the significance of Anzac Day to all Australians.

Reverend Brian Schmalkuche led the prayers for all touched by the tragedy of war.

Youth speaker, Meg Hunter, Parkes High School Year 12 student, gave an informative talk describing the Bogan Gate township of 1915 and highlighting the extent of the contribution of this community in the large number of young people who enlisted to serve either as soldiers or nurses.

The commemorative address was presented by Maria Buchanan.

Maria, who attended the commemorative centenary services held on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 2015, recounted her experiences of this memorable event.

An account of this address follows…

Some 3- wreathes were laid by families of veterans and service personnel.

Following the laying of wreathes, Mayor Ken Keith delivered The Ode.

Although a small community, the annual Anzac Day service is a memorable event through the dedication of local citizens to keep the Anzac tradition alive.

Unique to Bogan Gate and Trundle is the participation of the Trundle Troop of 6th Lighthorse.

Included in the service is the recitation of the poem, ‘The Last Parade’ by Trooper Bill Looney.

The poem honours the part of horses in battle.

Local school students contributed by laying a wreath for fallen ex-students and narrating a poem…. .

Musicians, Matthias, Simeon, Ruben and Eliza Kelly and Sarah and Grace Ranger who played The Recessional and national anthem, also provided a background of moving and evocative melodies.

Following the commemoration, those in attendance enjoyed a light breakfast prepared by Bogan Gate Community Hall Committee.

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The commemorative address was delivered by Maria Buchanan, a great granddaughter of Bogan Gate Gallipoli veteran, George Henry White.

On this day 12 months ago my mother, sister and brother in law and I were privileged to join the group of 8000 Australian and 2000 New Zealanders in commemorating the landing of 1915.

We had been fortunate enough to be selected in the descendants of Gallipoli veteran’s category of the ballot conducted.

I feel very honoured to deliver this commemorative address and share our experiences on the anniversary of the 100th Anzac Day Service

Prior to the commemorative services, we had spent a day on the peninsula visiting significant memorials.

As we walked among the graves of Beach Cemetery, reading the names on headstones, there was an ambiance of peace and serenity that belied the terrible carnage and absolute horror of the campaign that took place 101 years ago.

Though the terrain is rough and inhospitable with high ridges and steep hills as we have all learnt, it is, for the most part untouched, and does possess a natural beauty.

The Australian memorial, Lone Pine, stands on the site of the fiercest fighting that took place in August 1915.

Eight hundred died and 1500 were wounded in four days, in a battle that had little strategic purpose.

Once on the peninsula, the statistics we have all heard in reference to Gallipoli become so very real and it becomes exceedingly difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the loss of human life.

Wandering amongst the 1,100 plus graves elicited a strong emotional response.

I could not help but be incredibly moved by the epithets, or notice the date of death on many -25 April.

Or note the very young age of some – 17, 18.

Young family members and acquaintances came to mind.

They own a lively humour, a passion for life and are grasping opportunities offered to them, but they are completely unaware of their vulnerability and the fragility of life.

It very much resonated with me that these young soldiers would have been exactly like that.

However, they faced a fate unimaginable in certain death and a fear so overwhelming.

Some headstones simply stated a name and the words, ‘believed to be buried here’…..We felt a tremendous empathy for the grieving families who could never be really sure where their loved one lay.

While visiting Lone Pine, we were able to record the names of our two family members who were Gallipoli veterans in a memorial book.

We did that with great pride and gratitude.

Visits to Chunuk Bair and the Turkish memorials followed.

Each time we were dismayed by the ferociousness of the fighting described to us and unfathomable losses on both sides.

At the Turkish memorial, what remains of the trenches zig zag through the landscape.

They are now less than a metre deep and are fortified by timber frames.

A life size diorama of the battlefield impressed upon us the closeness of the trenches.

Enemies faced each other very few metres apart.

What crushing and overpowering fear, along with unbelievable mental and emotional anguish would the soldiers on both sides have suffered.

One narrative told at this site that has stayed with me, occurred later in the campaign on one of the nearby peaks.

Very heavy rain fell and the fighting continued.

Such was the number of casualties and the ground so drenched with blood that the run off that flowed down to a little community was blood red.

Locals say that even today, heavy rain that ultimately causes seepage on the lower slopes is still tinged red.

Visiting the Turkish memorials provided a more thorough insight into the Turkish perspective to which I hadn’t given much thought.

Turkish people consider the campaign as significant to their history as we do to ours.

Powerful stories of courage, determination and sacrifice reminded us that these qualities are common of all people involved in the tragedy of war.

We don’t often consider ourselves as enemies or aggressors.

However, that is how the Anzacs were viewed by the Turks as they struggled to retain control of their peninsula.

Their losses were even greater than the Anzacs and they were far more ill equipped for the ferocity of the fighting.

What is incredibly remarkable is the equanimity and respect the Turkish people display to the Anzacs and Australians.

It was a mere 16 years after the end of the conflict that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish commander and later president, composed this most moving tribute which says …

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives …

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side, here in this country of ours ..

You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.

After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

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