Lost luggage leaves New Zealand’s band without instruments for Anzac Day at Gallipoli

<span>Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony at Anzac Cove in the Gallipoli peninsula. </span><span>Photograph: Kemal Aslan/Reuters</span>
Visitors from Australia and New Zealand attend a dawn ceremony at Anzac Cove in the Gallipoli peninsula. Photograph: Kemal Aslan/Reuters

Australia’s and New Zealand’s defence forces are once again coming together at Gallipoli – this time to ensure New Zealand’s military band can play on.

The band’s luggage was among thousands of bags lost during last week’s Dubai floods, with embassy staff only able to retrieve one instrument and a handful of dress uniforms ahead of the 25 April dawn service in Turkey.

While 35 of the missing 65 bags were located, only a handful had managed to be sent on to where the Anzac and Chunuk Bair commemorations were taking place, local media reported.

New Zealand media reported the group’s drummer had been practising making the drumbeat with two spoons, while plans were in place for vocalist Lance Corporal Bryony Williams to sing anthems without accompaniment.

Australian defence force members were assisting their New Zealand counterparts where they could, and had helped source a guitar to support the NZDF’s Māori cultural group in singing Māori song or waiata, a NZDF spokesperson said. Australia would also provide a bugler.

The contingent would evaluate what had and hadn’t arrived on Wednesday morning before deciding how it might take part in the dawn service and how the New Zealand Chunuk Bair service will be delivered,” an NZDF spokesperson told Guardian Australia.

“It will however be delivered.”

The NZDF contingent of 40 was preparing to “play a reduced role in the Anzac Day commemorations” with the loss of the dress uniforms a particular hindrance, the spokesperson said.

Under defence force protocol, members must be wearing their dress uniform to take part in official commemorations.

The ceremonies mark the 109th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. Australian and New Zealand soldiers were part of the British-French allied defences sent to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. The battle dragged on for eight months, ending with the allied forces being evacuated from Turkey. It is estimated at least 8,141 Australians were killed during the campaign, along with at least 2,721 New Zealanders. The number of Turkish killed is estimated at more than 220,000.

While officially considered a military defeat for the Allies, the Gallipoli campaign stands as a significant moment in the shared history of Turkey and the “Anzac” countries Australia and New Zealand, the latter two commemorating the landing as a national holiday with memorial services, parades and marches.

NZDF Gallipoli lead John McLeod said the lost luggage was “naturally disappointing for the personnel directly involved and all event staff” but the contingent would still be able to provide “some support to the services”.

McLeod said efforts to find instruments locally had also proven difficult, given local bands’ participation in Turkish services.

New Zealand Newshub correspondent Lisette Reymer told local media there had been “a lot of panic” in Gallipoli once it became clear the luggage may not arrive in time.

The group was still rehearsing as scheduled in the hope their instruments and uniforms would arrive in time for the services on Thursday.

It had still been an emotional and reflective experience for the contingent, with many having personal and family connections to this special place,” McLeod said.

The Australian defence force was contacted for comment.