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Australia, N.Zealand mark 100 years since troops left for WWI

HMAS Stirling guards fire blank volleys during the Ceremonial Sunset at Anzac Peace Park in Albany, Western Australia, on October 31, 2014Australia and New Zealand on Saturday marked 100 years since their first convoy of troops left for the battlefields of World War I, with thousands attending events to commemorate the “heavy day in history”. The convoy left the Western Australian town of Albany on November 1, 1914, carrying 20,000 Australian and 8,500 New Zealand soldiers bound for Gallipoli in modern day Turkey and later the battlefields of Europe. “It was a heavy day in our history and it led to even heavier times to come,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in remarks welcoming New Zealand leader John Key to the country. Losses in Gallipoli were hard, with the offensive claiming the lives of more than 11,000 New Zealand and Australian troops in a matter of months, although worse battles were to follow in the Great War, Key said.

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