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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dawn Service at Gallipoli

With the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano spreading further across Europe, Australians planning to attend the dawn service at Gallipoli may be disappointed. Qantas said about 62,000 flights have been cancelled for people travelling between Australia and Europe and 17,000 are stuck in countries not their own.

"We are very much hoping that Istanbul will remain open" Singapore Airlines spokeswoman Susan Bredow said last night, "It's touch and go at the moment, the ash cloud is moving down that way. It's not good". A spokesman from The Australian War Memorial said there was concern that backpackers may not reach turkey from London.

So why do our kids have to travel all the way to Turkey? Winston Churchill's plan to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula backfired. Australian and New Zealand soldiers were among an allied expedition sent to take control of Istambul - a friend of Germany but it didn't happen. The ANZAC's landed at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 and were overwhelmed with fierce resistance from the Turkish army. Churchill's overall objective was to take Turkey out of the war but the campaign dragged on for eight months before the allies were evacuated, both sides suffering heavy casualties and enduring shocking hardships. 8,000 Australians and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died in the campaign and it was decided that the 25th April - the date of the landing - would become our national day of rememberance.

The Anzac legend has become such an important part of our national identity, more and more young people are making a pilgrimage to Gallipoli every year to attend the dawn service. But because mother nature decided to teach us all a lesson and stopped the world, numbers may be down this year.