rss feeds: Posts | Comments

Dawn Service for the ANZAC Heroes at Fort Bonifacio

Commemorating the ANZAC Day Centenary in Manila – 25 April 2015


HE Bill Tweddell and Col Bruce Murray

Offering flower wreaths in honour of the war heroes at The Tomb of Unknown Soldiers in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig (Left to right) H.E. Bill Tweddell, Australian Ambassador; Col. Bruce Murray, Defence Attaché to the Republic of the Philippines; H.E. David Strachan, Ambassador of New Zealand. The two ambassadors are joint hosts of this event. (Photo courtesy of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines Twitter account at @AusAmbPH)


“One hundred years ago, at dawn on 25 April 1915, members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed on the western coast of Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula. The Anzac Day commemorative service honours the sacrifice of those Australians and New Zealanders who have since lost their lives in time of war and in the cause of peace.”  (from the ANZAC Day Centenary 2015 Commemorative Service programme)


Last Saturday, 25th of April 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I which was a very important episode in the history of New Zealand and Australia. In Manila, a special dawn service was held at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers (Libingan ng mga Bayani) in Fort Bonifacio. Assembly time was at 5:15 am and Expatch was there to cover the event…


It wasn’t easy waking up at 3:00am on a Saturday morning, but today was a special Saturday for most people and it was worth waking up early. It was still too dark to drive to Fort Bonifacio around 4:45am but by 5:00am, a lot of people have already occupied the seats prepared at the center of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, just in front of a shrine with the half-mast Philippine flag. There was a hushed excitement before the beginning of a reverend ceremony in this once-in-a-lifetime commemoration. People were dressed formally and gathered together with their families. This was more than an event for the foreign community in Manila, because to guard the occasion were several men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The participation of the AFP is a reflection of the Anzac tradition of “mateship” between our armed forces. Moreover, other large scale Dawn Services were held across the world to ark the centenary.


A lot of important military and foreign dignitaries attended the Dawn Service in honour of the war heroes of the Gallipoli campaign. The ambassadors of Australia and New Zealand are joint hosts of this event.




The men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines



Lieutenant Colonel Tim Lopsik, Australia’s Assistant Defence Attaché to the Philippines, lead the Dawn Service at 5:30am.



Royal Australian Navy Warrant Officer, Chuck Connors and his son


The following were present during the Anzac Centenary Dawn Service and offered flower wreaths at the shrine:

1. H.E. Bill Tweddell, Ambassador of Australia

2. H.E. David Strachan, Ambassador of New Zealand

3. H.E. Esra Cankorur, Ambassador of Turkey

4. Hon. Eduardo Batac, Undersecretary of Philippine Department of National Defense

5. Undersecretary Evelyn Garcia, Chief of Protocol of Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs

6. Mr. Munin Paniswasdi, Charge d’Affaires of Thailand

7. Ms. H.M.G.R.R.K. Wijeratne Mendis, Charge d’Affairs of Sri Lanka

8. H.E. Christian Vihruri, Ambassador of Papua New Guinea

9. H.E. Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Ambassador of Iran

10. H.E. Ronald Daniel Arthur Van Remoortele, Ambassador of Belgium

11. Mme. Sylvia Tay, Spouse of the Ambassador of Belgium

12. Ms. Joni Scandola, Acting Deputy Head of Mission of the United States of America

13. Mr. N. Ram Prasad, First Secretary of India

14. Ms. Maria Mesquita Gusmao, First Secretary of Timor Leste

15. H.E. Neil Reeder, Ambassador of Canada

16. H.E. Luis Benavides Lillo, Ambassador of Chile

17. Mme. Toni Leanne Patchett, Spouse of the Ambassador of Chile

18. Mr. Timothy John Turado, Representative of the Embassy of Mexico

19. H.E. Kazuhide Ishikawa, Ambassador of Japan

20. Mr. Christian Clay Mendoza, Deputy Head of Mission of Mexico

21. Ms. Yildiz Albostan, Third Secretary of Turkey

22. Mr. Vural Goktas, Third Secretary of Turkey

23. Bishop Arthur Jones, Rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

24. Mr. Justin Allen, Deputy Head of Mission of New Zealand

25. Mr. Davut Ocak, Second Secretary of Turkey



Just some of the many flowers offered to honour the soldiers of ANZAC


Address by Ambassador Bill Tweddell

Anzac Day 2015 Dawn Service

Libingan ng mga Bayani (The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier)

Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

25 April 2015


“The Centenary of Anzac”

“Honourable Eduardo Batac, Undersecretary, Department of National Defense;

Other senior members of the Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police;

Veterans and serving Defence personnel;

Colleagues from the diplomatic and attaché corps;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen,


Today, the Centenary of the Anzac Landing, is a very special time for all Australians and New Zealanders, and marks one of the most significant national commemorations to take place in our lifetimes.


Each year on 25 April, Australians gather to remember the soldiers who were killed at Gallipoli and, by extension, the more than 120,000 Australians who have lost their lives in service to our nation.


Traditionally, ANZAC Day begins with a Dawn Service, at which Australians and New Zealanders remember the landings that began with the invasion of Ottoman Turkey exactly 100 years ago. On that day, 749 men of the Australian Imperial Force were killed in action, or died of wounds inflicted soon after they leapt ashore on the little, shingly beach soon to be called Anzac Cove.


Those who died on 25 April 1915 are certainly among those most often referred to in addresses delivered today across Australia, New Zealand and far beyond our two nations. They are mentioned in the abstract, as carriers of the Anzac virtues of courage, endurance, ingenuity, self-sacrifice and, mateship.


They were, on average, 26 years old when they volunteered in 1914, and they came from rural properties, towns and cities all over Australia’s mainland states and from far beyond. From the suburbs of Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to the furthest reaches of the bush, including the steamy rain forests of far north Queensland to the wide salt-bush plains and wheat-lands of South Australia, and the tall forests and sandy scrub of Western Australia.


One of these men was Corporal Joseph Stratford, a sugar cane cutter in his mid-thirties, who had volunteered in Townsville, North Queensland, my own home town, in October 1914. Many believed that Joe was the first man to set foot on the Gallipoli peninsula. He was in the first rowing boat to make it ashore under fire.


According to witnesses, he led from the front, jumped out of the boat, dashed up the beach and the scrubby ridge, as energetically as any of those in the first wave, to silence a machine gun that was killing his men.


His mother, Alice, waiting at home in Queensland was not to receive confirmation of Joe’s death for another year, despite numerous reports that he was still missing in action. She took some consolation from eye witness accounts that he was the first Australian ashore on Gallipoli.


The records state that Corporal Joseph Stratford, 1179, B Company, 9th Battalion, labourer, “threw himself on a machine gun”, no trace, died 25 April 1915.


In 1980, his nephew Fred composed a stirring poem celebrating his uncle’s achievement:

The skies that arched his lands were blue.
His bush worn winds were warm and sweet
And yet from earliest hours he knew
The tides of victory and defeat…
The bugles of the Motherland
Rang ceaselessly across the sea
To call him and his lean brown band
To shape imperial destiny

Today marks exactly 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, and, to truly appreciate the significance of the day, we must understand the men of 1915 as individuals, not just slogans and assertions of the wider commemoration of ANZAC Day.


These men would never know that the bay in which some of them were to die was to be called Anzac Cove and would become a pilgrimage site for thousands of Australians and New Zealanders many decades on. These men would never know that the landing in which they died was doomed from the start, and would be recorded by historians as a military failure.


However, this military failure, the storming of the beach under fire and the scaling of the steep hills while the air – as one account put it – “was alive with shrapnel” became a defining moment for our nation – a young nation which otherwise lacked the dramatic storming of a bastille or a hard-won fight for independence.


According to Charles Bean, Australia’s official war historian at Gallipoli:


“Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never know defeat”.


The British Empire, Dominion and French forces suffered severely at Gallipoli. More than 21,200 British, 10,000 French, 8,700 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders, 1,350 Indians and 49 Newfoundlanders were killed. The Allied wounded totalled over 97,000. Turkish losses numbered close to 60,000.


In Australia and New Zealand, people could only look on in disbelief at the mounting casualty list. And yet Gallipoli was just the beginning of what was to become a long road for Australia and New Zealand soldiers in the Great War. Further deployments took them on to the more costly battlefields of the Western Front in France and Belgium – where the death toll numbered in the tens of thousands and where Australia would lose 2,000 men on a single day.


During the past century, ANZAC Day has gone beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is now the day on which we remember Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.


Their legacy, the Spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.


Australians and New Zealanders share the knowledge that, in times of crisis, we have acted together to defend freedom, our shared values and our common interests. And we stand ready to do so again.


On this day, the Centenary of Anzac, the past and all its meaning is once again brought home to us.


Lest we forget.”



Author: Marcelle Villegas 


Photo source:

Top photo – courtesy of Australian Embassy in the Philippines – Twitter account –

Navy Warrant Officer Chuck Connors and his son – courtesy of Meilyn Acosta for Australian Embassy in the Philippines

All other photos – courtesy of the author



Special thanks to:
H.E. Bill Tweddell, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines

Australian Embassy Manila
Address: Level 23 Tower 2, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Philippines 1200



Speech of H.E. Bill Tweddell –





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *