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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Australia falls silent for Gallipoli hero
Alec Campbell (right) and great-great-granddaughter Ahli (left) in 2001
Alec Campbell with his great-great-granddaughter last year
Australians have observed a minute's silence to honour the last known survivor of the disastrous 1915 Gallipoli campaign.

Alec Campbell, who died last week aged 103, was given a state funeral in the Tasmanian city of Hobart.

Alec Campbell aged 16 poses in Australia before he headed off for Gallipoli to fight in the war, in this 1915 photo
Alec Campbell lied about his age to join up at 16
Military and political leaders packed St David's Cathedral, including Prime Minister John Howard, who cut short an official visit to China to deliver a tribute.

"Within this one man's journey we can chart the story of Australia itself," he said.

"Within this one life are illustrated the living values that transformed Australia from the hopeful young federation of Alec's childhood to one of the great developed nations of the modern era."

The cathedral bells tolled 103 times.

Rare honour

After the service, a guard of honour escorted a gun carriage bearing the coffin through streets lined with people to a private burial and an unprecedented 21-gun salute - an honour usually reserved for royalty.

At 1100 (0100 GMT) flags across the country flew at half-mast as businesses, schools and public transport observed a minute's silence.

Mr Campbell was just 16 when he and surviving members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) were evacuated from Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula.

Of the 8,000 Australian soldiers who died in the campaign, 2,000 were killed on the first day - 25 April, which is now known as Anzac Day.

Allied casualties at Gallipoli
Britain 120,000
France 27,000
Australia 26,000 (8,000 dead)
New Zealand 7,500

Of the Australians who fought in World War I, only 16 remain alive. The youngest is 100 years old.

Mr Campbell, a father of nine, died last Thursday at a nursing home in Hobart with his second wife, Kathleen, by his bedside.

Flags flew at half mast all over Australia the next day.

Mr Campbell had appeared frail but in good health when he led Hobart's Anzac Day march from a car only a month ago.

After the war he had worked on a cattle station, then as a carpenter before taking an economics degree and joining the civil service.

'Dangerous work'

In recent years he rarely spoke of his time in Gallipoli - often spent carrying water to the front lines.

"It was very dangerous work," he said. "Every day at least one carrier got hit."

He said he had joined up because "it was the fashionable thing to do".

"Once we were there, we didn't expect to survive, but it didn't play on our minds," he said.

Mr Howard told parliament that Mr Campbell was the last person in the world who had served in the Gallipoli campaign.

The last Turkish veteran, Adil Sahin, died in 1998.

The BBC's Red Harrison
"Business organisations, schools and public transport came to a halt"
See also:

25 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Nov 98 | World War I
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