Queen Elizabeth poppy wall in Sydney

Cunard, the iconic shipping line, has a long-standing association with Australian wartime campaigns, including World War 1 and Gallipoli. During World War 2 many Australian troops (including my father) were transported from Australia on their luxury liner, Queen Mary.

In the lead up to the Gallipoli centenary, Australians recently paid their respects to the nation’s fallen Anzacs at a special memorial service held in Sydney on board Queen Elizabeth, berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, six weeks into her 112 night world voyage. Leading political, military and community figures attended the special morning service that featured a tribute to the first Anzacs by Australian War Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson. Among the guests at the service was Braidwood resident Mark Keys, the great grandson of 2nd Lieutenant Francis Jensen who was killed on his third day of battle at Gallipoli.

Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry

Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry

Representing Cunard, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the line was honoured to pay tribute to the Anzacs during Queen Elizabeth’s visit. “Cunard’s proud 175 year maritime legacy is interwoven with our military history. Since the Crimean war in 1853, Cunard ships have assisted Allied forces in times of warfare, including during the First World War when 20 Cunard ships were lost. Two Cunard ships, Mauretania and Aquitania, moved troops to the Mediterranean at the time of the Gallipoli expedition, with Aquitania then converted to a hospital ship, carrying 25,000 injured Allied troops back to the UK until early 1916. Cunard’s relationship with Australian forces continued during the Second World War when thousands of our troops sailed to war from Sydney on the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. It’s a strong connection, so we are extremely proud the new Queen Elizabeth can play a part in remembering the service and sacrifice of the original Anzacs. Their nation building contribution continues to resonate down the generations because the families of those who served have never forgotten.” Ms Sherry said.

Cunard invited locals to pay tribute to their Anzac heroes by placing a poppy in a wall of remembrance beside Queen Elizabeth. Visitors to the two-metre poppy wall, formed in the shape of “100” to mark the upcoming centenary, were invited to honour their war heroes by writing a personal message in a remembrance book. Both the poppy wall and remembrance book will form the centrepiece of a commemorative service to be held on board the ship on April 24, the eve of Anzac Day, when Queen Elizabeth reaches the waters off the Gallipoli Peninsula during her current world voyage. Messages from the book will be read out at the service and the book will then be placed in Queen Elizabeth’s library, where it will remain in memory of the heroes of Gallipoli.

New Zealanders commenced the poppy tribute, placing flowers in the wall during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Auckland. 11,500 flowers will fill the wall, signifying the number of Anzacs who lost their lives in the ill-fated campaign. Monies raised through the poppy wall during Queen Elizabeth’s Sydney visit will be donated to Legacy to support their work with military families.

Mr Keys and his wife Germaine will travel as the custodians of the Australian poppies to Turkey, where Mr Keys will become the first family member to visit his ancestor’s memorial site at Lone Pine.

Queen Elizabeth will overnight in Istanbul on 24 and 25 April, before returning to the UK, arriving in Southampton on 3 May 2015.

Sandra Tiltman   Photos: James Morgan

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