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NZDF & ADF combine to overcome Gallipoli commemoration hurdles

The Anzac spirit of cooperation and camaraderie was tapped into at Gallipoli this year to allow the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent to honour those who fought there during the ill-fated 1915 campaign.

26 April, 2024

The Chunuk Bair service on Thursday (Türkiye time) included all the usual ceremonial elements, thanks to a little bit of help from the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The bulk of the 40-strong New Zealand contingent arrived in Türkiye last week, but because of weather disruptions in Dubai it wasn’t until Tuesday that most of their checked luggage caught up with them.

Crucially, the missing luggage items contained many service dress uniforms and most of the band’s instruments.

Uniform items were shared around and resized to allow the five-personnel catafalque guard to have the appropriate uniform needed to perform their duties.

On Thursday morning, four members of the ADF band rushed from their Lone Pine service to play at Chunuk Bair. Earlier, they loaned a cornet to Able Musician Orson Paine so he could play The Last Post at both the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site and the Chunuk Bair service later that morning.

The commemoration services went off smoothly in ideal weather conditions despite the earlier uncertainty about whether the NZDF personnel would be able to take part at all, and the limited opportunity for a full dress rehearsal.

“I am immensely proud of the work-around the contingent came up with to ensure we could fully support the commemorations,” said Contingent Commander, Major Peter Bowyer.

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The commemoration services went off smoothly despite the earlier uncertainty about whether the NZDF personnel would be able to take part at all.

“We were always fully committed to making the commemorations as meaningful as possible for everyone attending. Gallipoli has such significance to generations of New Zealanders, and Chunuk Bair was a place where we as a young nation lost so grievously.”

The contingent also reached into the more recent past by requisitioning a lemon-squeezer hat from a local establishment, which had been gifted by a previous year’s contingent. It has since been returned to the local business.

Major Bowyer said the contingent drew strength from the uncertainty earlier in the week as well as connecting with the past on the battlefield.

“Just being able to walk the same ground where thousands of our forebears lived, fought and sadly many lost their lives, strengthened our resolve and commitment.

“We continue to be incredibly grateful to Türkiye for not only allowing us to commemorate in their special place but also to be so welcoming and supportive of it.

“We share an enduring bond on Chunuk Bair, although always acknowledging whose land it is and how many men died defending it.”

Thursday’s Dawn Service attracted more than 1600 people, many who slept at the Anzac Commemorative Site overnight, and around 600 people subsequently attended the Chunuk Bair commemoration.

The Chunuk Bair service concluded with the traditional waiata Pō Atarau (Now is the Hour) and the NZDF haka, paying respect to all those - friend and foe - who fought here.

Cover image: LSIS J Mulvihill (ADF)