This guest post words and photos provided courtesy of Roddy MacKenzie.
Through my membership in the Royal Commonwealth Society, I was invited to attend today's 6 pm ANZAC 102nd Anniversary Memorial Service at Vancouver's Victory Square Cenotaph of the World War One Battle of Gallipoli. Turks call it the Battle of Canakkale.
This Battle raged in Turkey from April 25, 1915 until January 9, 1916. The Allies including ANZAC [Australia & New Zealand Army Corps] sustained 302,000 casualties while the Ottomans including Turkey sustained 250,000 casualties. Out of that catastrophic bloodbath of the British, French and Ottoman Empires, three nations were born -- Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. These three maintain a special friendship even after 102 years.
Today's Memorial Service at the Vancouver Cenotaph was hosted by CANZBA [Canada, Australia & New Zealand Business Association] with the support of the Australian and New Zealand Consulates in Vancouver.
On my arrival, I spoke with BC Regiment Honourary Colonel Ted Hawthorne about his pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge two weeks ago for the Centenary. As well, I met New Zealand Consul General Nick Fleming and Australian Consul General Kevin Lamb. They were delighted I'd cared enough while in Turkey in 2012 to visit Gallipoli and pay my respects at their battlesites, monuments and cemeteries.
As it happened, for this Service I was seated with Turkish Consulate staff. There I had the good fortune to sit beside Bulent Aksari. I learnt much from Bulent about Turkey in our conversation before the Service commenced.
The Commemorative Address was delivered by Australian Consul General Kevin Lamb. He graciously compared Gallipoli to Canada's Battle of Vimy Ridge, even though the scale of the tragedy of Gallipoli is so overwhelming it dwarfs Vimy. Then the Padre Father Keith Gilbert led us in prayers. Next, Turkish Consul General Anil Bora Inan said the Words of Remembrance and recited for us Ataturk's Immortal "Letter to ANZAC Mothers".
Wreaths were laid by Australia's and New Zealand's Consuls General, British Consul General Nicole Davison and Nerella Campigotto of CANZBA, as well as our Royal Commonwealth Society President Shawn Wade and others. Then came The Ode to the Fallen, The Last Post, Two Minutes Silence and The Rouse.
A memorable event was the Singing of the National Anthems because this was facilitated by printing the words of each Anthem in the Programmes which were given to everyone in attendance. First we sang ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR, then GOD DEFEND NEW ZEALAND [first in Maori, then in English] and finally O CANADA.
This moving meaningful Memorial Service of Remembrance of the worst nightmare Australia and New Zealand have ever endured militarily concluded with The HAKA and other traditional songs and dances of the Maori of New Zealand performed by "Te Tini a Maui". That was a heartwarming conclusion.
Also heartwarming was the number of people who reverently filled Victory Square in downtown Vancouver for this Service. In Australia and New Zealand, every April 25th countless Services of Remembrance are held throughout both nations to honour those who fought the Battle of Gallipoli.