Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) staff joined their Australian and Turkish colleagues to commemorate ANZAC Day last month, with a special service at CMF headquarters in Bahrain.
The early-morning service was attended by the Deputy Commander CMF, Commodore Simon Ancona, Royal Navy and the Deputy Commander United States Naval Forces Central Command, Rear Admiral Kevin D. Scott, United States Navy, as well as American, Australian, British, French and Turkish staff members.
ANZAC Day commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. In the months that followed these soldiers, together with British, Indian and French forces, struggled to open the Dardanelles Strait to Allied naval fleets against fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders.
Success would have allowed the Allied naval forces to threaten Constantinople (now Istanbul), and hopefully force the Turkish surrender. Over the course of the campaign, servicemen on both sides fought valiantly, earning each other’s mutual respect.
Ultimately the Gallipoli Campaign was a failure, due in no small part to the courage of the Turkish soldiers.
‘ANZAC Day’ was officially designated in1916, on the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, by Acting Australian Prime Minister George Pearce. Since then, it has been observed and celebrated as a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand.
On ANZAC Day Australian and New Zealand service personnel around the world gather to remember the servicemen and women who have served and fallen in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
Two commemorative addresses were given during the CMF Remembrance service. The first was given by Commander Dominic MacNamara, Royal Australian Navy, who said: “We are honoured to be joined by our CMF partners in marking this important day in Australia’s history.
“In particular we are honoured to share our remembrance with the Turkish representative to CMF.
“The mutual respect that Australia and Turkey developed on the battlefield in 1915 has long since evolved into bonds of friendship and goodwill.”
Lieutenant Commander Cuneyt Baglant from the Turkish Naval Forces read from the writings of the former Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during the service, encapsulating the heartfelt camaraderie now felt between the former foes.
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace,’ Lieutenant Commander Baglant recited, quoting the former Turkish leader.
“There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehments to us. Where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away the tears.
“Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.’
The service followed the ANZAC Day tradition and included the recitation of the Ode to the Fallen, the bugle call ‘the Last Post’, the observation of one minutes silence and the Rouse.