24 Apr 2024

'Panic' as Defence Force luggage lost ahead of Anzac Day Gallipoli service

7:40 pm on 24 April 2024
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy lays a wreath at the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site in Gallipoli today.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy lays a wreath at the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site in Gallipoli in 2018. Photo: NZDF

For the first time in history, the role of the New Zealand Defence Force in the Gallipoli Anzac Day dawn service is up in the air.

The contingent's luggage, containing instruments and uniforms, were lost in transit during the Dubai floods last week.

Dubai International Airport has since found some of the bags and the first of these have arrived in Turkey.

"Efforts by New Zealand Embassy staff in Ankara managed to retrieve some of the luggage on Tuesday evening (Türkiye time), but it included just one band instrument and some dress uniforms.

"It was naturally disappointing for the personnel directly involved and all the event staff," NZDF Gallipoli lead John McLeod said.

NZ Army Band performs at a Rugby Sevens tournament, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 2012.

The NZ Army Band. Photo: NZ Defence Force

Efforts to source instruments in Turkey proved very difficult, McLeod said.

The drummer has been learning how to make the official drum beat from two spoons from the cutlery drawer.

"It is disappointing for everyone but we are determined to ensure our Chunuk Bair service honours those who fought here at Gallipoli," McLeod said.

"Our outstanding vocalist, Lance Corporal Bryony Williams will sing anthems without accompaniment and we have a guitar to support our Māori Cultural group in singing waiata. We are grateful for the support of the Australian Defence Force in helping deliver our service."

The uniforms in particular were needed to follow protocol and show respect on the day. Those that hold weapons could not do so without their uniform on.

McLeod said it has been an "emotional and reflective experience" for the contingent, with many of them having a special connection to Gallipoli.

The Chunuk Bair service which follows the main Anzac service will still go ahead.

By Wednesday night (New Zealand time) 42 of the 65 bags had arrived in Turkey.

McLeod said people had swapped uniforms around and they had a guitar, so the show would go on, in some capacity.

RSA chief executive Marty Donoghue said the personnel involved will be devastated.

"Tā Wayne Shelford [national president] is over there representing us and the preparation that he had to do to get himself there - so I'm just imagining the amount of work that went in, the amount of personal sacrifice that went in to prepare the contingent to get over there.

"This will be absolutely gut-wrenching for them."

However, he believed the Defence Force would be able to find a way to make sure it can still commemorate Anzac Day meaningfully.

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