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Australian History

Thursday, May 16, 2002. :   The last ANZAC veteran of the Gallipoli campaign dies.

     ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Every year Australians and New Zealanders commemorate ANZAC Day to remember the troops landing on 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli on the Turkish Aegean coast. On that day, 16 000 Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops landed at Gaba Tepe, which later became known as Anzac Cove, as part of a campaign to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula. As news of the war continued to filter back to Australia, more young men presented themselves as recruiting offices around Australia. One of these was Alec Campbell.

Alec Campbell enlisted in July 1915, giving his age as 18 years 4 months, although he had, in fact, been born in February 1899. He had the required permission from his parents to enlist, even though he was well below the legal age. Campbell was assigned to the 8th Reinforcements and sailed from Adelaide a month later on the SS Kyarra. Due to illness among the troops, and exceptionally rough seas, Campbell's battalion did not land at Gallipoli until November 1915. The men faced freezing weather, with a blizzard sweeping through on their allocated "bath day" in late November; consequently, Campbell was admitted to the 4th Field Ambulance on 8 December with influenza. Shortly after he returned to the 15th Battalion, the group was evacuated from Gallipoli.

Campbell suffered many more illnesses in the following months, including jaundice, mumps, palsy and paralysis of the right side of the face. Because of his ongoing health issues, he was recommended for discharge. His service with the Australian Imperial Forces officially ended on 22 August 1916.

Campbell went on to live a full life, working in a variety of trades, marrying twice and fathering nine children. He became the president of the Australian Workers Union branch in Tasmania in 1942; learnt to sail and competed in at least six Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races; completed an economics degree; worked tirelessly to assist World War II veterans; and worked for the Heart Foundation until he retired at 80. Nonetheless, he is best remembered for being Australia's last living link with the Gallipoli campaign. He was awarded numerous medals, among them the 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal; the Victory Medal; the Anzac Commemorative Medallion in 1967; the Gallipoli Star in 1990, which was given as part of the 75th Anniversary of Gallipoli celebrations; the 80th Anniversary Armistice Remembrance Medal in 1999; and the Centenary Medal in 2002.

Alec Campbell died of pneumonia at the age of 103, on 16 May 2002. Flags flew at half-mast around the country, and he was honoured with a state funeral at St David's Anglican Cathedral in Hobart.


Today in History

Thought For Today
If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good.
Romans 12:17 (c) GNB
Don't let a bitter person or experience ruin your reputation by causing a wrong reaction.

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