Australia’s oldest surviving Victoria Cross recipient, Keith Payne (centre), read the Ode before the sounding of the Last Post at Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli (Photo © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Gallipoli Centenary: Australia remembers the Battle of Lone Pine

Posted on on 10 August 2015
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Australia has held commemorations in Turkey marking the centenary of the Battle of Lone Pine, one of its best known actions of the Gallipoli campaign.

The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, led his country's remembrance at Lone Pine Cemetery on August 6th 2015, joined by Australians, New Zealanders and Turks who'd made the journey to the peninsula.

He also attended a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial to the troops of the Turkish 57th Regiment who fought at Lone Pine.

Sir Peter, a former Australian Army chief, paid tribute to all those who fell in the 'great battles' of the August 1915 offensive.

"Thousands died on both sides as soldiers hunted each other in the dark depths of trenches with bayonet and club and bomb," the Governor-General said. 

"Survival unscathed was rare, breath-taking courage was commonplace."

At Lone Pine, Australian troops fought their way into Ottoman trenches that had been securely roofed with pine logs. 

The attack was aimed at diverting Turkish forces during the last major Allied attempt to break out of the Anzac Cove and Suvla beachheads.

Seven Australians won the Victoria Cross for their bravery during four days of of hand-to-hand fighting.

Sir Peter Cosgrove said:"Three Australian brigades successively bore the most horrendous casualties in this small piece of ground – thus the men of every State in Australia fought and bled here at Lone Pine."

A trench at Lone Pine after the battle. On the right is Major Leslie Morshead. As a Lieutenant General, Sir Leslie Morshead commanded Allied troops with distinction in North Africa during the Second World War (Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial A02025/Public Domain)

Sir Peter commended Australians and New Zealanders for forging the bonds of 'unbreakable cohesion' at Gallipoli which sustained them through three more years of the First World War in the Middle East, France and Flanders.

"They clung to their mates and their leaders as their talismans, their platoons, companies and battalions were their precious military families, always to be cherished and supported and worth dying for. The greater, the graver the threat, the stronger the bond."

A century later, the Governor-General said those Anzac qualities were still an inspiration.

Sir Peter said:"These men here would immediately recognize and applaud our Australian communities in the aftermath of tragedies at home and abroad, sleeves rolled up, hearts on display.

"They would say 'that’s what we believe in, that’s what we’d hoped for.'"

Australia's Governor-General closed his speech with words echoing those of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Ottoman commander who became the first President of Turkey: ‘Rest in Peace, Johnnies and Mehmets together.’

The full text of Sir Peter Cosgrove's speech at the Lone Pine service can be read here. The Governor-General also represented Australia at New Zealand's commemorations on August 8th 2015 marking the centenary of the Battle of Chunuk Bair.

Source: Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

Images courtesy of © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence /CPL Jake Sims (Lone Pine Cemetery); the Australian War Memorial A02025/Public Domain ('Lone Pine after the battle' )

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News