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Changes to ceremonial duties in Gallipoli for NZDF

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) may play a reduced role in Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli this year after some of the contingent’s luggage failed to arrive in Türkiye in time.

24 April, 2024

The contingent flew to Türkiye through Dubai last week, where unprecedented flooding hit the region and the airport suffered massive disruptions.  The contingent’s checked luggage did not accompany it to Istanbul.

The luggage contained service dress uniforms and band instruments, all of which are essential for Thursday’s Dawn Service at Anzac Cove and late-morning New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair.

Efforts by New Zealand Embassy staff in Ankara managed to retrieve some of the luggage on Tuesday evening (Türkiye time), but it included just one band instrument and some dress uniforms.

It was naturally disappointing for the personnel directly involved and all the event staff, said NZDF Gallipoli lead John McLeod.

However, the contingent would still be able to provide some support to the services, Mr McLeod said.

The contingent would evaluate what had and hadn’t arrived on Wednesday morning before deciding how it might take part in the Dawn Service and how the New Zealand Chunuk Bair service will be delivered. It will however be delivered. 

“It is disappointing for everyone but we are determined to ensure our Chunuk Bair service honours those who fought here at Gallipoli. Our outstanding vocalist, Lance Corporal Bryony Williams will sing anthems without accompaniment and we have a guitar to support our Māori Cultural group in singing waiata. We are grateful for the support of the Australian Defence Force in helping deliver our service.”

Efforts were made to source musical instruments locally but it had proved very difficult to find the right instruments, particularly given local bands’ participation in Turkish services Mr McLeod said.

The bulk of the 40-strong contingent arrived in Türkiye last week with just their carry-on luggage and have been able to buy clothing and other necessaries. Rehearsals and battlefield tours have been conducted as scheduled in anticipation of uniforms and instruments arriving in time.

It had still been an emotional and reflective experience for the contingent, with many having personal and family connections to this special place, Mr McLeod said.