Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Address to the 2018 Anzac Day Dawn Service, Anzac Cove, Gallipoli


Your Excellency the Governor-General of New Zealand and Sir David, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Excellencies, men and women of the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces – both serving and past – ladies and gentlemen.

We feel we know them. The men who served here. Some were young, still only boys. Others were older, with families of their own.

We know their names, their hometowns and we see too many of their names etched on graves and memorials in cemeteries across Gallipoli. 

We know of their battles. The landing and Krithia. Lone Pine, The Nek, Hill 60 and Chunuk Bair, among others.

We know too of the daily struggle to hold their positions on the ridges above the Agean, at places like Quinn's Post, where friend and foe were separated by mere metres.

The efforts to get water up to the ridgelines, to bring casualties down to the beach.

The dark, damp work of the men tunnelling, constructing great underground passages.

We know of the ever present danger, of illness, snipers' bullets and shrapnel.

We know about the swarms of flies, the oppressive heat of summer, and the storms and snow as winter approached.

We know many of their stories.

Told in the traces that have survived for more than a century.

Through letters and diaries that have become treasured family possessions, or part of our rich public archives.

Even now some artefacts still lie on the battlefield, providing a glimpse of their everyday lives.

Sadly, some stories we will never know.

Lost in the dust and smoke of battle, or left untold.

Some who served here spent months on ANZAC, enduring shifts in seasons and fortunes.

Many of the survivors of the gruelling eight month campaign went on to serve in the Middle East or on the Western Front.

Frank Zillman was one of those men.

Born in Strathpine in Queensland, Frank was a fencing contractor before he enlisted, aged just 18.

He joined the Second Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli as a reinforcement in October 1915.

Frank was at ANZAC during the autumn storms and snow in late November and was evacuated to hospital on 9 December and never returned to Gallipoli.

But his war was far from over.

Frank was one of the many Gallipoli veterans who went on to serve on the Western Front.

Arriving in France in June of 1916, Frank served with the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column, and a year later with the 13th Field Artillery Brigade.

On 4 April 1918, only days after he had returned from leave, Frank was mortally wounded when his battery was shelled while marching in to Querrieu.

He was just 21 years old.

It is the greatest honour for all of us to gather here at North Beach as dawn breaks more than a century after this campaign was fought.

It is humbling to stand among our New Zealand and Turkish friends and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the tens of thousands of people on both sides of the campaign who lost their lives.

Those who never had the chance to return home to loved ones, to live the lives they had planned.

But their legacy remains.

A legacy of resilience and determination, facing decisions and sights we would never wish upon anyone.

We feel we know them the Anzac's not only because they fought to defend us and sacrificed for us. It is also the power of that sacrifice which forged a young nation; and values they embodied and bequeathed to us survive to this very day – they are at the core of our people and our purpose and for this we will be eternally grateful.

Lest we forget.