This year is the 100th anniversary of the first ANZAC Day which falls on 25th April – commemorations of the fallen heroes of Australia and New Zealand during the First World War. These days ANZAC Day actually commemorates all Australians killed in all military operations. Last year I attended the ceremonies of the 100th anniversary of the actual landing at Gallipoli. About 30,000 people gathered at the ANZAC Square in Brisbane to take part in Dawn Service at 4:28 am, marking the moment troops landed at the now called ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
What is ANZAC?
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War 1. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs. Below is a short description of the events at the Gallipoli in 1915.
When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years, and its government was eager to establish a reputation among the nations of the world. When Britain declared war in August 1914 Australia was automatically placed on the side of the Commonwealth. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of Australian and New Zealand forces during the campaign left a powerful legacy. What became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways in which they viewed both their past and their future. [Australian War Memorial]
The ANZAC Day originated in Queensland
According to the records held by State Library of Queensland the ANZAC Day originated in Queensland. During the public meeting in the Exhibition Hall in January 1916, the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee was formed. Canon David John Garland is acknowledged as the main contributor of ideas around how the day should proceed, you can read the ““Citizens’ celebration” programme here. This week the Canon Garland Memorial – ANZAC Day Origins was unveiled at Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park. There is also an extensive article about the Committee and the origins of the ANZAC Day on the Queensland State Archives website – link here.
During the 1920s Anzac Day became established as a national day of commemoration for the more than 60,000 Australians who had died during the war. In 1927, for the first time, every state observed some form of public holiday on Anzac Day. By the mid-1930s all the rituals we now associate with the day – dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, two-up games – were firmly established as part of Anzac Day culture. [Australian War Memorial]
ANZAC Square and Shrine of Remembrance
The idea of the memorial park with a monument commemorating those who died in the First World War was discussed from 1916. After many years in 1928 both Federal and State gavernments granted land for the square. Construction took 2 years and it was dedicated at 11am on Armistice Day, Tuesday, 11 November 1930. The circular colonnade of 18 columns represents the year of peace, 1918 – the end of the Great War. ANZAC Square commemorates all Queenslanders who participated in war, not just Brisbane residents.
The Square is formally arranged. From a small stone wall edged by formal gardens on Adelaide Street, three paths, separated by lawns and mature trees, converge on a large elevated Shrine at Ann Street. These paths represent the three branches of the armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force. A dominant feature of the Square is the Shrine. Eighteen Doric columns support a circular entablature externally ornamented with rosettes and internally inscribed with the names of battlefields where Australian soldiers fought. Within the circular enclosure a bronze urn houses the Eternal Flame – a symbol of faithful remembrance. [Queensland Heritage Register]
Each year on the 25th April throughout Australia and New Zealand there are events organised to commemorate the fallen soldiers. Since 2015 during 3 consecutive years there are also many additional events organised such as exhibitions like the one at the State Library of Queensland, titled “Distant Lines” held last year.