THE Battle of Lone Pine was more a “vicious armed brawl” than an example of modern war, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove has told a centenary service to mark the bloody conflict.
HUNDREDS of people endured sweltering heat on the Gallipoli Peninsula on Thursday to attend the service on a battleground where some 800 Australians died, 1500 were wounded and seven Victoria Crosses were won.
In recognition of such gallantry VC winners Mark Donaldson, Daniel Keighran and Keith Payne took part in the service along with Doug Baird, the father of VC winner Corporal Cameron Baird who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013.
Sir Peter told the crowd at the Lone Pine cemetery that Gallipoli 100 years ago was a place of deadly trench warfare and ongoing stalemate that sapped morale.
“No digger would have seen the imminent prospect of death, wounding or serious illness with any sense of glorious duty, although all of them would have given just about anything for a decent meal.
“Our Anzac forebears were tired beyond belief, filthy beyond description, malnourished and possessed of a growing cynicism,” Sir Peter said.
“And yet they endured, grew closer, gained strength from each other and increasingly from the collective notion of being Anzacs.”
Sir Peter said the intensity of the battle as diggers and Turks fought at close quarters over a stretch of Turkish trenches sets it apart in Australia’s military history.
“It was less an example of modern war than a protracted and vicious armed brawl.”
Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell told the crowd that Lone Pine “cost thousands of lives for a hollow victory”.
“Barricades were built of the dead, and dead and wounded alike were trampled by the living as they fought on.”
Sir Peter, who led a rebuilding taskforce in Queensland after Cyclone Larry in 2006, said the Anzacs of Lone Pine would recognise and applaud the “sleeves rolled up, hearts on display” attitude of Australian communities in the aftermath of tragedies.
“They would say, ‘that’s what we believe in, that’s what we’d hoped for’.”