ANZAC Day is a commemorated on the 25th April each year. People remember and honor the brave soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) who fought in battles.
This day is commemorated in Australia and New Zealand, as well as by Australians and New Zealanders living in other parts of the world. Many ANZAC soldiers sacrificed their lives to protect their countries, and this day is a reminder to never forget their bravery and service to their nations.
Significance of Anzac Day
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. April 25th marks the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand forces during World War 1, at Gallipoli.
New Zealand and Australia mark the anniversary each year, remembering not only those who died at Gallipoli, but all who have served their country in times of war.
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied 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 in Türkiye), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.
The New Zealand Expeditionary Force, which left New Zealand in October 1914, combined with their Australian counterparts to form the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Along with some British units they mounted an amphibious expedition.
The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance. The Gallipoli assault ended some eight months later as a saga of errors and horrors – the planners making the errors and the men enduring the horrors.
The infantry were not trained properly to land from the sea, were inadequately supplied with artillery shells, had no grenades, were without engineers or material for the construction of piers, were never fully supplied with other material and never reinforced quickly enough or in sufficient numbers.
The cost to New Zealand was 2,721 dead and 4,725 injured (some of whom subsequently died) – a staggering 88 per cent casualty rate.
New Zealand and Australia’s reaction to the ‘debt of suffering’ was to establish Anzac Day as an annual day of commemoration on 25 April.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” has become an important part of the identity of both nations.
The Anzac poppy is a symbol of remembrance for the impact of war in New Zealand society. This red poppy is known internationally as a symbol of war remembrance and is worn in New Zealand on the day before and on Anzac Day, which is held on 25th April each year. The poppy is also seen at important events, military funerals, war graves, and cemeteries in New Zealand and around the world. Anzac Day is an important day of commemoration for those who died serving their country, as well as a time to honor returned servicemen and women.
The red poppy has an interesting history. During the First World War, the poppy was one of the first flowers to grow in the mud and soil of the battlefields in Flanders. This was noticed by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who wrote the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ about it. After he died in 1918, the poppy became a symbol of regeneration and growth in a landscape of blood and destruction.
In New Zealand, the idea of wearing poppies as a symbol of remembrance came from France. In 1921, the New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association ordered thousands of silk poppies made by the French Children’s League. The plan was to have a Poppy Day appeal around Armistice Day in November 1921, like other countries were doing.
However, the ship carrying the poppies from France arrived too late, so the RSA decided to wait until Anzac Day in 1922. This first Poppy Day was a huge success, and some of the profits were sent to the French Children’s League to help relieve suffering in war-ravaged areas of northern France. The RSA used the rest of the funds to help unemployed returned soldiers and their families. Today, this tradition continues, with the funds providing welfare services to war veterans and the returned service community.
Make your own POPPIES
THE LAST POST
What is the origin of the Last Post?
The Last Post has nothing to do with the delivery of letters and parcels. It is, in fact, the bugle call that, from around the 1790s, was traditionally used by the British army to mark the end of the day in a military camp. It would sound when the duty officer did his rounds, ensuring that sentry posts were manned and that soldiers were going to bed, and was one of several such calls that sounded during the day, beginning with the Reveille in the morning. During conflict, it would also be used to mark the end of fighting.
When is the Last Post traditionally played today?
The Last Post has become associated with war remembrance and military funerals. This dates back to the mid-19th century, when it was played at the graves of soldiers who had died in conflict abroad – the idea being that the call of the end of the day also signifies the end of life.
The Haka - Short Film
Short film The Haka gives the heartwarming true story of ‘The Christmas Truce’ a Māori twist. After receiving a tin of biscuits all the way from Aotearoa, a group of soldiers end up making unlikely friends with the enemy, after exchanging season’s greetings across no-man’s-land. Eventually, a ceasefire is called and the men socialise for the holiday, which shows both the similarities and differences between the two cultures. Released online on Anzac Day in 2021, the Wellington-made short screened at a festival of Australiasian films in the south of France, and was named Best Film at Kiwi festival Top of the South.