From midnight to 5am Eastern European Summer Time (EEST), over 500 Australians gathered at historic gun battery Fort Dardanos in Gallipoli for a moving, independent Dawn Ceremony hosted by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours (MMBT) – including a live performance of iconic Anzac remembrance song “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by acclaimed singer song writer Eric Bogle.
Created for battlefield pilgrims who missed out on ballot tickets to the official Dawn Ceremony at Anzac Cove, the MMBT Service – compered by television personality Ray Martin – was designed to give thanks to, and acknowledge the sacrifice made, by all men and women who have served their country during wartime. Highlights included:
• A commemorative concert by Eric Bogle who, in addition to playing “And the band played Waltzing Matilda”, delivered heartfelt performances of “The Gift of Years” (written to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings), “No man’s land” (Green Fields of France) and “Now I’m Easy” (an ode to Australian farming life);
• A performance of ‘Highland Cathedral’ (symbolising a pledge to live in peace) by world-class piper, Ryan Gonsales, who has previously played for Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral Castle and in 2013, became the youngest Pipe Major in the British Army;
• A wreath laying ceremony at the foot of the eternal flame by Australian, New Zealand and Turkish representatives.
• Poetry readings and commemorative speeches by Dignitaries from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey
“The centenary of the Gallipoli landings is a momentous occasion in our nation’s history, and to commemorate the Anzacs on the battlefields where thousands of soldiers sacrificed their lives was an incredibly moving experience,” said Australian historian, battlefield guide and founder of MMBT, Mat McLachlan.
“Having Eric Bogle, Ryan Gonsales and Ray Martin involved in this special ceremony has been an incredible honour. Eric’s poignant performance of ‘And the band played Waltzing Matilda’– which concluded the minute of silence – is one that I, and all Australians here today, will remember for a lifetime,” added McLachlan.
Bogle, whose grandfather served during the First World War, said that singing his iconic melody near the location where the Anzacs fought and died, has brought his journey with the song full circle.
“I hope the Anzac centenary is a time of reflection, when we look back at the incredible bravery and sacrifice of the Anzacs, when we see the endless rows of gravestones in those military cemeteries and shake our heads in disbelief at the sheer number of lives lost and question why this horrific slaughter happened at all,” Bogle commented.
“I’d like us to resolve to do all in our power to make sure it never happens again so that…a century after it all started, perhaps WWI can indeed be ‘the war to end all wars’,” he added.
Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is Australia’s leading specialist battlefield tour company, leading thousands of Australians every year to significant battlefields all over the world, including to Gallipoli, France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, Vietnam, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and more.
For more information visit www.battlefields.com.au