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Gallipoli centenary marked at home and Down Under

01 May 2015


Salute: Prince Charles in front of the Turkish memorial in Gallipoli before a ceremony marking the centenary

Salute: Prince Charles in front of the Turkish memorial in Gallipoli before a ceremony marking the centenary

COVENTRY Cathedral, built next to the bombed-out ruins of the former cathedral, is more familiar than many with Isaiah 2: "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks."

It was read again at a service to commemorate the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, and Anzac Day, on Saturday afternoon. The service had been conceived and planned by the Revd Andrew Coleman, an Australian priest serving in the diocese as Priest-in-Charge of Ansty and Shilton, and Vicar of Longford.

The preacher was the Bishop of Bendigo, near Melbourne, the Rt Revd Andrew Curnow, who spoke of the ambiguous feelings in his country and New Zealand about the Gallipoli campaign. It was when the two nations "came of age", discovering the virtues of resourcefulness, comradeship, endeavour, and "reckless valour in a good cause".

"But," he said, "we also need to acknowledge that it was a dreadful battle." Australia lost 8700 in the nine-month campaign, New Zealand 2700 - a large proportion of their small expeditionary forces.

"Good things came out of Gallipoli, but at huge cost to human life," he said.

His sermon was light on references to the equally severe losses experienced by Turkey; but this was made up for by the sight of the Turkish flag flying beside those of the allied forces of the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada. And the Deputy Head of Mission at the Turkish Embassy, Fatih Ulusoy, read the words of the Turkish leader, Kemal Atatürk, from 1934: "You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away the tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace."

In London, the New Zealand-born Archbishop David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Vatican, led a dawn service in Hyde Park. The New Zealand High Commissioner, Sir Lockwood Smith, told the thousands who had gathered at Wellington Arch that the Anzac soldiers were "the flower of the youth of our new nations".

There was also a service at Westminster Abbey, attended by the Queen and the Prime Minister. In a show of reconciliation, the flags of Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Turkey were placed together on the altar.

At the Cenotaph on Saturday, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop to the Forces, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, joined Australian and New Zealand representatives to commemorate Anzac Day. Archbishop Welby recalled the "heroism and tragedies" of the Gallipoli campaign, and said: "May we honour their sufferings through our unwavering pursuit of a just peace, in a region where fear and conflict often feel insurmountable."

A parish ten miles away, in Eltham, south London, also held a service on Saturday. Holy Trinity, Eltham, is home to the Gallipoli Memorial Chapel, dedicated by its wartime Vicar, Henry Hall, who was also chaplain to the British Army's 29th Division.

Mr Hall landed with troops from the 29th Divison on the West Beach at Gallipoli; on his return to London, he dedicated the chapel in memory of the thousands of soldiers who failed to return with him.

On the other side of the world, Australia and New Zealand held their own commemorations of the anniversary.

In the build-up to Anzac Day last week, the dioceses of Melbourne and Sydney published details, including extracts from letters home, of chaplains who had accompanied the troops into battle in Gallipoli 100 years ago, and clergy who had signed up to the medical corps.

The Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, Canon Simon Winn, said that Anzac Day had grown in significance in his nation in recent years. "While fewer and fewer Kiwis attend religious worship, and most prefer not to affiliate with 'organised' religion, they turn out in many thousands for Anzac events, which have become imbued with a 'spiritual' symbolism that seems to unite the country."

His cathedral exhibited watercolour paintings and drawings by Kiwi troops who had served in the First World War, as well as hosting a vigil on Friday evening before the commemorations began. More than 40,000 people were reported to have attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Wellington, and 34,000 (three times the normal number) attended a similar service in Auckland.

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