A Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) member has paid a special tribute to the thousands of First World War dead killed in Gallipoli, on an Anzac Day like no other.
Burak Gundogan undertook a solo pilgrimage of sites across the Turkish peninsula today to lay wreaths at memorials and cemeteries on behalf of those who would have attended this year’s cancelled Anzac Day commemorations.
It comes as commemorative Anzac Day events around the world are among the gatherings to have been cancelled to help slow the spread of coronavirus, with thousands of people from Australia and New Zealand marking it from home instead - lighting candles and live streaming services.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern started proceedings with an Instagram post showing a wreath outside her residence in Wellington, as well as her and fiance Clarke Gayford standing with her father, Ross Ardern.
Ms Ardern wrote: “On my street one of our neighbours played the service through a small speaker while we all stood apart but together… A different, but still a really special Anzac Day. Lest we forget.”
Her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison kept things brief, simply tweeting a photograph of himself with wife Jenny at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra with the caption “Lest We Forget”.
Mr Gundogan, CWGC’s Country Manager for Turkey, attended Lone Pine Cemetery, Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial and the Helles Memorial.
Together, these sites contain the graves and memorials to thousands of men from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
In 1915 the Gallipoli Peninsula was the scene for a failed campaign against the Ottoman Empire that saw almost 36,000 Commonwealth troops die. The campaign remains a focal point of Australia and New Zealand’s national day of remembrance.
As well as Anzac members, there are British, Indian, Irish and Newfoundland war dead commemorated by CWGC at the sites where wreaths were laid.
WATCH: Burak Gundogan paying tribute to the fallen across the peninsula.
Mr Gundogan said:
“Usually our cemeteries and memorials would be filled with people paying their respects on Anzac Day but that’s just not possible right now.
"I was lucky to be in the unique position of being able to do something on behalf of the Commonwealth community and show that these men are no less remembered today.
“I hope this small act of remembrance from here in Turkey can show that wherever we are in the world and whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, it is still possible to pause and reflect on the generations before us.
“As a local I always admired the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Gallipoli and it is a great honour to be a part of the team.
"Every day brings a new challenge, but I am so proud of what my team and I strive to do, because we keep memories alive and remind people of the sacrifices made.”
Cover image: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.