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Media releases & speeches

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Minister for Defence Materiel

Monday, 25 April 2016

Gallipoli Anzac Day Dawn Service Address

We stand here in this place to mark the sacrifice, the resolve and the bravery of the men who died for us

We remember them through their story, a story that we carry as their descendants.

We have travelled here to pay our respects to the first Anzacs and to those who follow them.

It is a story of brave men who fought in a foreign land for our values, our freedoms and for our sovereignty.

We gather here because this is the place where that story began.

It is a story of courage, resilience and a unique Anzac spirit of rolling your sleeves up and getting the job done.

It is a story of people like Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, an office worker from Maryborough in Queensland.

Enlisting in Brisbane, Duncan had no idea of what awaited him in this place, half a world away.

As a member of the 9th Battalion, Lieutenant Chapman was in the first wave of Australian forces sent to land at Gallipoli.

In fact, 101 years ago, in this same dark dawn, Duncan was one of the very first Anzacs to land on these shores.

Surviving the landing, Duncan wrote:
“What a living Hell it was, too, and how I managed to go through it from 4 o’clock in the morning of Sunday, April 25th, to Wednesday, the 28th, under fire the whole time, without being hit, is a mystery to me.”

Lieutenant Chapman spent four months on these hills and in these trenches fighting for his country. This steep terrain would have become his home.

Duncan was lucky enough to leave alive. Many others did not. Over 11,000 Australians and New Zealanders died in the eight-month-long ordeal that was the Gallipoli campaign.

Thanks to the talents of Australian Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Brudenell White, Duncan Chapman wasn’t the only Anzac to leave these shores.

Duncan left in August, four months before the evacuation of the Anzac and Suvla sectors in December 1915, which saw more than 93,000 troops, 200 guns and over 5,000 animals leave here without incident.

The remarkable story of the evacuation is often forgotten – an incredible feat of logistics. It was the task of moving a city the size of Rockhampton or Bunbury or Palmerston North from this peninsula without the enemy engaging.

This effort and its success was extraordinary.

It’s not often that a withdrawal is held up as a victory. But so much of the Anzac story is more than ordinary.

The countless lives that were saved, the untold tragedy that was avoided, has meant that Anzac didn’t end as a story that we remember bitterly.

Many Australians and New Zealanders died here. The Anzac story did not.

Lieutenant Chapman’s story did not finish at Gallipoli. In Egypt, Duncan Chapman was present when General John Monash paraded the troops on the first Anzac Day in 1916.

Even at the time, Monash knew the importance of those first soldiers who fought at Gallipoli in the coming Western Front Campaign.

In a letter home, Monash recorded that “Every man who had served on Gallipoli wore a blue ribbon on the right breast, and every man who, in addition, had taken part in the historic landing on 25 April 1915, wore a red ribbon also ... Alas how few of us are left who were entitled to wear both.”

Promoted to Major, Duncan Chapman sailed from Egypt to France with the newly-raised 45th Battalion and entered the massive theatre of warfare on the Western Front.

On 6 August 1916, German shellfire killed Duncan Chapman at the battle of Pozieres, the centenary of which we commemorate this year.

He was 27.

Less than three weeks after Duncan Chapman’s death, his father wrote to the Minister of Defence.

“It is a great blow to me in every way as he was my sole support. Still I gave him freely for the cause… still we are human and would almost grudge what we gave. My heart is not very strong being 73 years of age.”

Duncan’s father died soon after.

Each year we remember the beginning of the story of Anzac here at Gallipoli. But while it began here we cannot forget where it has taken us.

It is a story that continued on the Western Front: at Fromelles, at Pozières, at Passchendaele, at Villers-Bretonneux.

It is a story that continues wherever Australian or New Zealand service men and women are deployed today.

It is a story that continues in us, those who gather every year to remember.

Lest we forget.

ENDS


Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.