THE strategic evacuation of the last Australian soldiers from Gallipoli Peninsula more than a century ago has today been remembered at a service held at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester joined guests at the Friends of Gallipoli Inc. commemorative service to remember the remarkable story of the evacuation.
“More than a century ago, Australians and New Zealanders, along with the French and British, fought against the Turkish in what has become a campaign etched in our collective history,” Mr Chester said.
“The evacuation, which was planned and executed from 22 November 1915, is often forgotten. Troops were progressively moved without arousing the suspicions of the Turkish troops until the last troops left the Anzac Cove area 104 years ago today.
“This day is an important part of the Gallipoli story and one that we should ensure our future generations learn about to honour those who served and died at Gallipoli in 1915, and to reflect on the long, shared history between our countries.”
In order to execute the evacuation, the final few soldiers who were left in the trenches maintained normality and fired rounds regularly to keep the enemy guessing. To help disguise their final departure they created self-firing rifles, which were rigged to fire by water dripping from one pan into another attached to the trigger – the rifle firing when the lower pan was full.
Major Nathaniel Dunbar Barton of the 7th Light Horse Regiment described some of the scenes in a letter to his mother on 22 December 1915 … It was bright moonlight marching down, and very impressive seeing parties coming from all directions in silence, with padded feet to deaden any sound, and all making for their appointed places to the tick of time.
“In the early hours of 20 December 1915, the final boat cast off from the Anzac Cove area and further north, the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train left Suvla, where they had been maintaining the wharf from which the British rear-guard would leave,” Mr Chester said.
“The Gallipoli campaign ended with the evacuation of French and British troops from Cape Helles in January 1916.