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ANZAC sacrifice recalled in moving service at Ballance House

The parade of Old Comrades and Friends of the Somme Association led by the piper and bugler.THE extraordinary sacrifice of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand during World War One has been marked for the first time at a memorial service here.

The special service commemorated ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) and was held on Saturday at Ballance House in Glenavy.

Ballance House was the birthplace of New Zealand Premier John Ballance (1891-1893), and the service marked the Anniversary of the landings on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915 during which more than 11,000 troops from Australia and New Zealand lost their lives.

The 10th (Irish) and British 29th Divisions, along with the Anzac troops, landed against strong opposition from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal.The plaque is surmounted by the New Zealand crest which adorns the graves of all New Zealand Servicemen buried in war graves maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

There were appalling losses and the landings very quickly became a stalemate. The campaign was the first major undertaking by a joint military formation from Australia and New Zealand and in both countries April 25 remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans.

Because of the strong links between the two countries, the Ulster New Zealand Trust at Ballance House decided a commemoration here was long overdue and Old Comrades, Friends of the Somme Association and friends gathered for the ceremony.

Mr David Gourley gave an initial briefing on the landings, which was followed by a short and dignified religious service led by Rev. Brian Turnbull from Antrim Community Church.

The traditional Act of Remembrance and Silence was followed by the laying of a wreath on behalf of the Mid Antrim Branch of the Somme Association.

Lisburn Deputy Mayor Edwin Poots spoke movingly of the contribution made by Anzac and Irish soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign.

He then unveiled a new plaque 'In Memory of New Zealand Servicemen and Servicewomen who made the supreme sacrifice or served in World War 1 and World War II'. The service ended with the singing of the New Zealand National Anthem.

Those in attendance expressed the hope that the commemoration of ANZAC Day will become an annual event at Ballance House.

Ulster Star