This article from NYTimes.com
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We have had considerable digressions on
Gallipoli and Anzac Day here on this list,
so I thought it was worth forwarding this
obituary which appeared in today's New York
Times. And it might be worth reflecting
that the number of people who witnessed
mort aux Dardanelles, as well as any of World
War One, is becoming vanishingly small.
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Alec Campbell, Last Anzac at Gallipoli, Dies at 103
May 20, 2002
By JOHN SHAW
CANBERRA, Australia, May l9 - Alec Campbell, the last
survivor of 50,000 Australians who fought in the heroic,
ill-fated campaign against the Turks at Gallipoli in 1915,
helping forge their new nation's identity, died May 16 at
the age of 103.
He died in Hobart, in Tasmania, where he was born in 1899,
one year before Australia became politically independent
The participation by the Australian and New Zealand Army
Corps (known as Anzacs) in World War I was Australia's
first major military commitment on an international stage.
The Australians in particular attach a mythic role to the
soldiers, whose bravery led them to transcend local
loyalties to their home states and identify themselves
first and foremost as Australians.
Alec William Campbell volunteered for service at 16,
claiming to be 2 years older and enlisting without his
He served two months in the conflict at Gallipoli. In all,
nearly 8,000 Australians were killed in eight months of
vain attempts to break out of a beachhead below heights
held by Turkish forces, part of the German coalition in
Small and nimble, Campbell served as a water carrier,
running and climbing between outposts dug into the cliffs,
and also as a rifleman. After two months in the trenches he
was evacuated with a fever that caused partial facial
paralysis. This spared him from service in France, where
Australia lost a further 53,000 troops in trench warfare.
"I joined for adventure," he told Tony Stephens, a
historian from Sydney who wrote "The Last Anzacs". "There
was not a great feeling of defending the Empire. I lived
through it, somehow. I enjoyed some of it. I am not a
philosopher. Gallipoli was Gallipoli."
Gallipoli has been defined by writers and politicians in
Australia and elsewhere as the moment that defined the
national identity and character, even though it ended in
withdrawal rather than victory.
The day of the first Gallipoli landings, April 25, is
observed each year with veterans' marches, a national
commemoration of the conflict's place in national history.
Mr. Campbell rode at the head of one ceremony last month,
the old soldier's last parade.
As the last living link to the historic age of Gallipoli,
Mr. Campbell was regarded as a national treasure in his
last years. His second wife, Kathleen, who survives him,
said recently, "Alec has become national property, although
I'm not sure he realizes it."
After wartime service he became a labor union official and
a government clerk, earned an economics degree, built boats
and sailed in major yacht races.
Mr. Campbell, who will receive a state funeral, is survived
by 9 children, 30 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company