ANZAC Day: A National Holiday

This post was written as an extended comment for a student sharing a post on Memorial Day in the U.S.A. You can see her post by clicking...

Memorial Day: A National Holiday

Hello Mallory, Mrs. Yollis and class,

I found this post to be interesting as it shares a few things of interest to me. Looking at Memorial Day, Australia's equivalent would be ANZAC Day held each year on April 25. It's a day when Australians remember those men and women who have served our country in war.

Bega Soldier's Memorial

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A Little ANZAC History

This year, 2015, held special significance for Australia and New Zealand because it marked the 100th anniversary of the day the ANZAC tradition began. Firstly, ANZAC is an acronym coming from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It's a word used to describe the combined forces sent by New Zealand and Australia to help England in World War 1 (WW1).

Australia had only become a nation in 1901 when the British colonies, now our states, agreed to form the Australian Commonwealth, i.e. Australia as a nation. With England's declaration of war against Germany in WW1, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand also declared they were at war with Germany. This was to be the first time Australians had gone to war as Australians.

Ships set sail from Australia and New Zealand with troops expecting to fight in Europe against Germany but a failed attempt to use naval strength to take the Ottoman Empire, and ally of Germany now known as Turkey, out of the war, ANZAC and other troops of the British Commonwealth were sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula then known as Çanakkale Savaşı to the Turkish. It was on April 25, 1915 ANZAC troops first landed at Gallipoli.

The Battle of Gallipoli (Çanakkale) lasted from April 25, 1915 until January 9, 1916 when British troops including the ANZACs withdrew from Gallipoli. There was huge numbers of soldiers killed on both sides of the battle where conditions were very poor for soldiers, many also dying of disease.

For the ANZACs, it may have been a defeat but it marked the beginning of a tradition. ANZAC Day each April 25 is a time when Australians and New Zealanders pause to remember those who have died in wars from that first battle up until modern times.

What did I do on ANZAC Day, 2015?

A few years back, I set myself a task of filming the ANZAC Day ceremonies in towns having one of the local schools in our Sapphire Coast Learning Community including 2 high schools and 13 primary (elementary) schools. I knew it was a task that would take a number of years as I didn't expect to finish until 2018. the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

My ANZAC Day this year started at 4:30 a.m.. I rose and headed down to the memorial in my town of Merimbula in order to set up a video camera to record what is known as the Dawn Service. The Dawn Service ended a little after 6:00 a.m.. I haven't as yet processed the video of The Dawn Service so I can't yet share it here but the photo below was taken during the service.

Merimbula Dawn Service

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

After returning home for breakfast, I next headed into our main shire town of Bega for the ANZAC Day March and Ceremony. It was only after this ceremony my ANZAC Day ended. I returned home by 1:00 p.m..

Below are two video clips I made of the Bega ANZAC Day march and ceremony. They were used in a DVD I gave to schools in Bega and members of the R.S.L. (Returned Services League for veterans).

Bega ANZAC Day March and Ceremony part 1 and 2

Do I have anyone in my family who had served in the military?

Before WW1 started, I had a great uncle (my father's uncle) who was in the Australian Naval Reserve. With decelaration of war against Germany, naval reservists were called up and sailed north in order to capture Germany territories around New Guinea. That means my Great Uncle Ernie was in one of the first battles of World War 1.

Great Uncle Ernie taken in 1915

Permission should be sort before using this image.

Permission should be sort before using this image.

After taking over the German colonies, my great uncle had returned to Australia and had resigned from the naval reserve. He was later to join the Australian Army and was sent to fight in Europe. He was killed in action over there but exactly where he lies isn't certain. He was one of the many unknown soldiers.

With the coming of World War 2 (WW2), my father and five uncles joined the forces serving in the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force. All of my uncles survived that war and returned to Australia.

My father (left) and a friend in 1940 before leaving for Singapore.

Permission should be sort before using this image.

Permission should be sort before using this image.

My father had also returned but his fate in the war wasn't as "easy" as the others. He had been sent to defend Singapore from Japanese attack but, when Singapore surrendered to the Japanese, he spent most of the war as a Prisoner of War. He always marched in ANZAC Day marches. My brothers, mother and I would travel into Sydney to watch so ANZAC Day is also a day I remember my father who died back in 1967. My mother is a War Widow as it was determined my father had died as a result of his years as a P.O.W..

What else caught my interest in your post?

You mentioned you were a Girl Scout. I spent many years as a Cub Scout and Scout and eventually rose to earn the Queen's Scout Award (sort of like the Eagle Scout). As a scout, I had at times marched in ANZAC Day parades as a flag bearer. Scouting gave me a love for hiking and the outdoors that has stayed with me through life. Below is a photo of my Queen's Scout badge.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

If the British Commonwealth has a king as it's head, this badge would be known as the King's Scout badge. My Queen's Scout badge was awarded to me by the then Governor of New South Wales, Sir Roden Cutler, back in the early 70s.

One thought on “ANZAC Day: A National Holiday

  1. Mrs. Yollis and class

    Dear Mr. Mannell,

    What a wonderful post about ANZAC Day. As you’ve stated, it is like Memorial Day here in America.

    Thank you so much for sharing about your family’s service. These are stories and photos that help us all begin to understand the dedication and price paid for our freedoms. Your family has a tremendous history of service. I was sadden to read about what a difficult time your father had.

    Mr. Yollis’ grandfather served in WWI. Like your father, he continued to suffer after he returned home. We owe so much to the military.

    Thank you, again, for being a part of my classroom and helping us learn.

    Warmly,
    Mrs. Y♥llis
    California

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.