01 November 2014
John Key - Speech at the Albany Convoy Commemorations
Albany Convoy Commemorations
Albany, Western Australia
Your Excellency the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove,
Prime Minister Tony Abbott,
Members of the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces,
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,
I am honoured to be with you today to commemorate a momentous event for our two countries.
From this place 100 years ago, ten ships carrying approximately 8,500 New Zealand troops of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, joined 20,000 troops of the Australian Imperial Force.
Together, they sailed off to fight in a war on the other side of the world.
Major Fred Waite, author of The New Zealanders at Gallipoli, described the scene vividly, saying that as the New Zealanders’ vessels met the Australian fleet,
“The cheering and counter-cheering, the Maori war cries and answering coo-ees would have moved a stoic.
Young Australia was welcoming Young New Zealand in no uncertain manner in the first meeting of those brothers-in-arms soon to be known by a glorious name as yet undreamed of.”
They would, of course, become the ANZACs, and the very first part of their legend was written here in Albany.
Our troops set off with a keen thirst for adventure, driven by a fierce sense of loyalty to their countries’ and their mates, and a steadfast belief in the values and freedoms they sought to defend.
Their enthusiasm for adventure would be matched by the courage of their actions in torrid battlefields far from home.
In a matter of months the Gallipoli offensive would tragically claim the lives of more than 11,000 New Zealand and Australian troops. Another 24,000 would be wounded.
And worse battles were to follow in what would come to be known simply as “The Great War”.