Last Gallipoli warships hosts ANZAC Day service to honour Commonwealth dead

Topic: People Storyline: Events

You can join Australian and New Zealand military personnel on the most sacred day in their calendar with a unique ANZAC Day commemoration in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Personnel from the two Commonwealth states’ armed forces have been invited to mark Thursday April 25 with a service on board the sole surviving ship from the campaign which gave birth to the ANZAC legend.

Monitor HMS M33 – today a museum ship in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard – once pounded Turkish positions on the Gallipoli peninsula during the failed Dardanelles campaign of 1915-16.

Troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – shortened to ANZAC – were landed on the western shore of the peninsula and doggedly forged a beachhead against determined Turkish defenders at a site which became known as ANZAC Cove.

In the years since, a dawn service on April 25 has marked what has become known as ANZAC Day.

You won’t have to rise as early if you wish to attend the commemorations on M33 – proceedings aboard the veteran warship begin at 10.30am.

The monitor will be flying the national standards of Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and the UK – echoing the sentiments of reconciliation and friendship of post-WW1 leader Kemal Atatürk: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets…”

Royal Navy Chaplain Ralph Barber will lead the service, there will be an address by National Museum of the Royal Navy Interim Director General Matthew Sheldon and wreathlaying by representatives from the UK, Australia and New Zealand on the main deck of the ship, alongside two buglers from the Royal Marines School of Music sounding Reveille.

There’s no UK equivalent of ANZAC Day.

To the peoples of the two Commonwealth nations, April 25 it’s a combination of Remembrance Sunday with a mix of July 4/Independence Day as they pay tribute to the men of 1915 – and those who have subsequently fallen in the Service of the two nations.

But it is also seen as a key moment in the birth of Australian and New Zealand national identities.

And despite the distances involved, the Royal Navy has not merely maintained its links with its counterpart Commonwealth navies, but stepped up co-operation in recent years.

Patrol ships HMS Spey and Tamar have made extensive use of both countries’ dockyard facilities, conducted joint training and enjoyed Australasian hospitality since deploying to the Pacific two years ago.

In addition, through the AUKUS submarine programme, the Silent Services of the RN and RAN are closely bound, with UK personnel providing training and guidance to Australian submariners as Canberra begins transitioning to a flotilla of nuclear-powered boats.