The Honourable Warren Snowdon MP, Australian Minister for Defence, made the following address at Lone Pine in Turkey on the 96th anniversary of Anzac Day:
Fellow Australians, veterans, visitors from around the world, distinguished guests and
particularly those in uniform.
The Lone Pine memorial where we are gathered today is Australia’s memorial to the missing.
Almost half of the Australians killed at Gallipoli – over four thousand men – have no known grave.
The wall behind me lists the names of those men.
Seven hundred of our New Zealand brothers, who fought with us in the battles of August 1915, are also commemorated here.
It is a solemn reminder of the great cost of war, for two small nations from across the globe fighting on Turkish soil.
And what a cost it was.
The four day battle of Lone Pine saw more than 2000 Australian casualties with more than 6900 Turkish losses.
Those losses sustained for the Anzacs to gain ground of little tactical value.
Ultimately the sacrifice, the suffering, the losses were futile.
My grand father’s brother, Thomas Ernest Snowdon, was one of the Anzacs here.
He was a member of the 8th Infantry Battalion, which landed at Gallipoli as day was breaking on the 25th of April, 1915.
They were involved in what became known as the ‘Battle of the Landing’—the period of fighting that lasted from the first day until early May.
They were also engaged here at the attack on Lone Pine.
During the fighting on 7th August, Tom’s mates were holed up in an underground tunnel, camouflaged by bushes.
Tom was standing on the ladder at the opening to the tunnel, watching the 3rd wave of Anzacs advancing into Lone Pine as three large calibre Turkish shells exploded.
The first two landed nearby.
The third shell landed right on target.
His mates were buried, with only three pulled alive from the rubble.
Tom suffered a head wound, burst ear drum and a few broken ribs.
He was evacuated to Egypt, where he recovered and returned to Gallipoli in October, as the campaign here was coming to an end.
It is hard to imagine the intensity of the fight, or the brutality and devastation of those few days in early August.
Wave after wave of men were sent ‘over the top’ in broad daylight to charge enemy trenches less than one hundred metres away.
Thousands went to their death.
Pompey Elliott, the commander of the Seventh Battalion at Lone Pine wrote of the battlefield:
When anyone speaks to you of the glory of war, picture to yourself a narrow line of trenches two and sometimes three deep with bodies mangled and torn beyond descriptions…
“Live amongst this for days…
This is war and such is glory –
Whatever the novelists may say”
In the days that followed the attack on the 6th of August Lone Pine was besieged by the sight and smells of death.
Bodies were lying everywhere, in places piled on top of one another.
As one soldier wrote:
“Right beside me, within a space of fifteen feet I can count fourteen of our boy’s stone dead…
Men and boys who yesterday were full of joy and life, now lying there, cold-cold-dead- their eyes glassy, their faces sallow and covered with dust
Soulless-gone- somebody’s son,
Somebody’s boy–now merely a thing.
Thank God their loved ones cannot see them now”
His was a shocking picture of the horror and inhumanity of the campaign on the Peninsula.
It was bloody and relentless.
Many of those Anzacs who survived the eight month long campaign here at Gallipoli were only to perish later on the Western Front.
For them Gallipoli had only been the beginning.
They travelled to a new theatre, to fight a different foe.
And there to suffer enormous casualties and loss of life from among their number.
Today we recall the great bravery, the sheer determination and the tragic sacrifice of these great Australian sons.
The Battle of Lone Pine was fought bravely by all involved.
The Anzacs held this place against great odds.
But our young nations would come to realise that that this brief victory was too costly, too devastating.
We pause at this time for reflection and for remembrance.
We honour those courageous young diggers, those heroes.
And we learn from them.
The service and sacrifice of those that have gone before have helped us better understand the conditions and effects of battle.
So that we might better look after our people that we put in harm’s way.
Today, our forces wherever they are across the globe, carry with them the Anzac spirit so proudly displayed on these bloodied battlefields.
They serve and fight for us in the hope of making this world a better place.
For those who fought so bravely here at Lone Pine and to all those who have worn our uniform over the last century…
In so many places, in so many battles…
Including those who now proudly wear it.
We salute you.
We thank you for your service, for your determination;
For your courage;
For you commitment and for your sacrifice.
And we celebrate the loyalty, the love you have for one another.
And our hearts cry for those who have fallen.
We forever honour their memory, and proudly pay tribute to their sacrifice.
Lest we forget.
Warren Snowdon is the Minister for Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac. The Lone Pine service was attended by around 7000 people and commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces in Turkey durng World War I.