Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed an immense privilege to join you in commemorating the gallant individuals who fought so courageously on this peninsula a century ago.
All those who fought at Gallipoli, whether landing on or defending its shores, hailed from so many different nations and peoples, from an almost infinite variety of backgrounds and walks of life. And whilst their origins were diverse, they were all thrust into a very different world than they would have ever known or imagined before.
Indeed, in 1915, both sides were united by challenges that neither could escape; the devastating firepower of modern warfare, the ghastly diseases that added to the death tolls, the devastating Summer heat which brought plagues of insects and in Winter, just before the battle ended, the biting cold that many wrote was worse than the shelling itself.
On this centenary occasion, it seems to me that we must remember the heroism and humanity of those on both sides who had to leave behind their families, from cities, villages and farms around the world, to come here and confront the horrors that they did, and in an appalling number of instances, never to see their loved ones again.
In May 1915, a truce was arranged for one day to allow both sides to bury their dead. Reflecting on this, an Australian, Private Henry Barnes said:
“I sat on the parapet and after a while walked over and offered bully beef to one Turk. He smiled and seemed very pleased and passed me a whole string of dates...”
Private Barnes went on to talk about Turkish soldiers in general:
“...the Turkish soldier was very highly regarded by me and all the men on our side. I never heard him decried, he was always a clean fighter and one of the most courageous men in the world...”
Another account of this day came from Aubrey Herbert, a British officer who spoke Turkish. He recalled the words of a Turkish officer with whom he spoke during the truce, while the dead were being recovered from the battlefield:
“At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep.”
The battle at Gallipoli is a striking reminder that the “Great War” was truly a “World War” not only because its combatants were drawn from so many different nations, but also because its effects were truly global. It destroyed old empires and created new fissures, just as it brought some countries together in shared endeavours and strengthened national identities exemplified by the spirit and 'mateship' of the Anzacs who, in fighting here at Gallipoli, contributed so profoundly to the proud sense of nationhood of Australia and New Zealand.
Perhaps, today, we should recognize that over the past seventy years since the Second World War many parts of the world have enjoyed unprecedented periods of peace and stability. At the same time, many regions are torn by the most brutal of conflicts so it seems to me that we should remember with shame and profound regret that despite the appalling sacrifice made by so many in two World Wars, intolerance, combined with the willingness to use the most barbaric violence, remain a persistent and prevailing source of division and conflict in today's world.
If I may dare say so, we all have a shared duty, each in our own way as individuals, but also together as leaders, communities and nations, to find ways to overcome that intolerance to fight against hatred and prejudice in pursuit of greater harmony so that we can truly say we have honoured the sacrifices of all those who fought and died on battlefields here, at Gallipoli, and elsewhere.