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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
Australia mourns last Gallipoli soldier
Anzac Day ceremony
Every April Australia remembers its dead on Anzac Day
Australia was in mourning on Friday after the death of a 103-year-old World War I veteran who was the last known survivor of the disastrous 1915 Gallipoli campaign.

Alec Campbell was one of 50,000 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) troops who landed on Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula in what was one of the darkest episodes of the war for the Allies.

Alec Campbell at the age of 16 poses in Australia before he headed off for Gallipoli to fight in the war, in this 1915 photo
Alec Campbell went to Gallipoli at the age of 16
Of the 8,000 Australian soldiers who died in Gallipoli, 2,000 were killed on the first day - 25 April, which is now known as Anzac Day.

For Australians, Gallipoli was a defining moment in the fledgling country's identity, and that is why they are mourning Alec Campbell.

A father of nine, he died peacefully on Thursday at a nursing home in Hobart, capital of Australia's island state of Tasmania, with his second wife Kathleen by his bedside.

Flags flew at half mast around Australia on Friday and newspapers devoted their front pages to Mr Campbell's death. He is to be given a state funeral with full military honours in Hobart next Friday.

Mr Campbell appeared frail but in good health when he led Hobart's Anzac Day march from a car just three weeks ago.

He had lied about his age to enlist at 16, and landed on Gallipoli in October 1915. He was evacuated about two months later suffering war wounds and partial paralysis brought on by mumps, which affected his right eye for the rest of his life.

'Dangerous work'

Mr Campbell was finally discharged as medically unfit and returned to Australia where he worked on a cattle station then as a carpenter before taking an economics degree and joining the civil service.

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

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard told Parliament: "Not only is he the last Australian Anzac, he is also the last known person anywhere in the world who served in that extraordinarily tragic campaign".

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

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Australians march in honour of Gallipoli
29 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Silence reigns for Anzac hero
03 Nov 98 | World War I
Gallipoli: Heat and thirst
Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


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