One hundred and four years ago, thousands of brave young Australian men joined those from New Zealand, Australia, France and others in boarding boats ready for an assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
What was running through the minds of these young men as they waited in the ship for the moment to arrive, it is impossible to know. It is unlikely they were aware of the sheer terror that would await them as they made their way onto the beaches of what in the future would become known as Anzac Cove.
They certainly didn't know the boats would stop more than two kilometres away from the intended landing spot, with a Turkish force waiting for them on high ground, ready to use the unforgiving terrain as a near insurmountable advantage once combat began. But despite the scene that met them as they went ashore at dawn on April 25, 1915, with bullets flying and friends and leaders dying around them, the Anzacs pushed forward. Unfortunately, for our heroic men, early mistakes almost certainly ensured that the Anzac force would never achieve their goal of capturing the peninsula. However, while the objective may have failed, the Anzacs created their place in history and created a legend. The landing at Gallipoli was Australia's first major action of the First World War. More than 8000 men would be killed during the eight-month campaign and another 26,000 were wounded.
By the end of the war on November 11, 1918, more than 60,000 Australian troops had been killed and 156,000 more had been wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. For our small nation with a population of barely 5 million people, this was a heavy toll. And tragically, the Great War did not end up being the war to end all wars.
There have been many more Australian deaths in many other conflicts around the world since that time. The Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial records the names of more than 102,000 members of Australian armed forces who fought and died for our country. It is those men and women we stop and honour on Anzac Day, as well as those who were injured in service and those who continue to serve overseas to protect Australia's interests.
I have always been amazed by the turnouts to Anzac Day ceremonies in Dubbo, both dawn and the morning services. Australians made a vow to always honour those who gave their lives for the freedoms we have today. I believe Dubbo does it extremely well. I expect it will be no different on Thursday. I will attend both the Dawn Service and the Morning Service in Dubbo. Other Councillors will be at services at Wellington and the villages.
The Dawn Service in Dubbo starts at 6am, while the morning service starts with the march at 10.15am and the service at 10.45 am at the Victoria Park Cenotaph.
For more information on services and details on Anzac Day road closures, visit dubbo.nsw.gov.au.