ANZAC Day is one of the most important days on the New Zealand Calendar. It is a day for New Zealanders to commemorate those who fought in battle during the First World War, to mourn those who were lost, honour those who returned, and to acknowledge those who made sacrifices for our nation. It is a time to express sorrow, not to glorify war. Therefore, each year, April 25th is ANZAC Day, a public holiday for Kiwis to do exactly that.
So why was it, that as I stood at the Dawn Service in Dunedin at 6am last year, I was not as surrounded as I have felt in years in the past. Dunedin is a “Student-City” but for the first time since moving here, I could notice a difference. Why was it that I felt that no one really cared it was ANZAC Day, they just cared it was a day off work? I was faced with the troubling question, that as we get further and further from the memory of the Great War, are we forgetting the reason and purpose behind Anzac Day?
I had spoken with many of my friends – in their late teens and early twenties – about their plans for ANZAC Day this year and no one really knows. While it may be a bit early, even the plan to attend a Dawn Service Parade would be something. Are we forgetting that we are not meant to view this public holiday as a “day off”, but a day to commemorate those who sacrificed themselves in war.
Do we think that because the war happened years ago it doesn’t affect the world today? Is it because we do not personally remember the horror, sacrifice and death of war? Do we not have to make an effort to think about those who have given us the freedom we have today? Is it possible that in the near future ANZAC Day as we know it will become less relevant?
Schools around the country place a strong emphasis on teaching about Anzac Day. At my old school it was a big deal – we wore poppies and we were represented at ANZAC Day Memorial Park Service in Tauranga by both students and staff. I know that other schools around the country consider it to be an important date also. So how do we forget this importance so quickly after we leave? Is it the duty of the school, the memory of older staff members, or the actual choice to remember this day honourably?
It seems to me that today we are more interested in a day off work or school than the true meaning of being part of the ANZAC History, and that’s not a good change to society. I believe we need to make sure the importance of ANZAC Day and what it stands for is not lost on us as the younger generation. We should be the ones to keep the memory alive. Not only does this honour those before us, but it reminds us of the horrible things that can come from War and ensures we spend our whole lives avoiding another one beginning.
We have three weeks until ANZAC Day is here… Lest we forget, in simple terms, means we will not forget. So come on New Zealand, lest we forget.
Critical Thinking Challenges:
- Why is it important that youth, not just adults, attend ANZAC Day?
- What is the difference between remembering, commemorating and celebrating?
- Do you believe it is still important ANZAC Day is celebrated when most of those who fought are not around today?
- Ask a parent how much they paid their respects to those who fought in the war, this ANZAC Day and on ANZAC day when they were younger?
- Ask a grandparent about how their family’s life was affected by the wars? It may be more than you think.
- Research how ANZAC Day came to be and why it is still held today.
A large forest fire has destroyed huge areas of the ANZAC battlefield located in Gallipoli.
Helicopters were called in with monsoon buckets to battle the fire at the site where New Zealanders fought in World War I.
The fire, which reportedly broke out as a result of sparks from a welding machine combined with strong winds.
Two helicopters, two amphibians, and ground fire crews were deployed to the area to deal with the blaze, eventually bringing it under control a few hours after it erupted.
Gallipoli is a place of huge cultural significance to New Zealand, after an unsuccessful campaign by Allied troops there in 1915 resulted in the deaths of 2779 Kiwis.
- Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
- Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 mins until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
A is for ANZACs
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
ANZAC is the name the Generals gave to the soldiers who jumped ashore at a place called Gallipoli, very early on the morning of 25 April 1915.
Because of the bravery shown by the ANZACs on that day, and for the eight months the soldiers fought at Gallipoli, ANZAC is also the name we give to a special day that remembers all Australian men and women who have fought and died in wars.
On 25 April every year, men and women who have survived these wars put on their medals and march down our city streets to celebrate ANZAC Day. It is a special day for the veterans to meet old friends. It is also a special day for all Australians to be thankful we live in a country without wars.
B is for Bully Beef
Bully Beef is the name of a canned meat that was given to soldiers in the field. When the soldiers landed at Gallipoli the only food they had to eat was whatever they had carried ashore in their packs.
For several days all they had to eat was a little bully beef, some tea, sugar and a few very hard biscuits from the ship.
Look in your lunch box. Would you swap lunch with an ANZAC?
C is for Colour Patches
The ANZACs were grouped together into Battalions. A Battalion had nearly 1,000 men. When the ANZACs were training in Egypt, they found it very difficult to find their tents at the end of the day because there were so many, and all the tents looked the same. It was decided that each Battalion would fly a flag from their tent with special colours to help the ANZACs find their way.
This was so successful, the ANZACs decided to sew tiny flags onto their uniforms so they could find each other if they were lost in battle.
The ANZACs became very proud of their patches. Because they had been away from home for years, their Battalions became their families, and their colour patches were like their surnames.
D is for Digger
ANZAC was their official name, but ‘Digger’ is what the soldiers called themselves. Where do you think the name came from? No one really knows! Some people think it was used because many soldiers had worked in the goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo before the war. Others think is was used because of all of the digging in the trenches. For whatever reason, it is the name the soldiers preferred.
Today, if you call someone a Digger it means they are your mate.
E is for Enlistment
When Australia joined the war on the side of the British, many men raced to the nearest Army barracks to enlist.
F is for Friendship
World War One was mostly fought on the other side of the world. Because the ANZACs were a long way from home, they learned to rely on each other.
For four years the Diggers lived together, trained together, and often died together. The friendships formed were to last a lifetime.
G is for Gallipoli
Gallipoli is the name of a small town on the Turkish coast. (The Turks call it Gelibolu.)
Very early on the morning of 25 April 1915, the ANZACs climbed down rope ladders into long boats and were rowed towards the shore. The Turks were waiting amongst the cliffs and sand dunes.
Before the ANZACs reached the beach, the Turks began shooting from the hills. The ANZACs kept on going towards the shore. Some of the ANZACs who survived Gallipoli said there were so many Turkish bullets whizzing through the air it was like being outside in a hail storm.
At the end of the first day, 2000 ANZACs had been killed or wounded. But they didn’t give up.
H is for Home-Front
The home-front was a place a long way from the war. For the ANZACs, the home-front was Australia and New Zealand.
We should remember that when a small country like Australia goes to war, those that do not enlist still have to make sacrifices. Because food and clothing had to be sent to the soldiers, people back home went without.
Even those who had some spare money were asked to lend it to the Government. The Government used this money to make or to buy more ships, guns, bombs, uniforms and aeroplanes.
I is for Ice
Life in the trenches was terrible. As well as the danger of being killed by a bomb or bullet, many ANZACs got very sick and died in the horrible conditions.
Imagine being so cold that your eye lids froze shut while you were sleeping. Imagine water being carried to the soldiers as blocks of ice. Imagine having to stand in a puddle of freezing water or mud for a week at a time.
The ANZACs put up with these conditions month after month after month.
J is for Jacka
Albert Jacka was a soldier who fought during World War One. Because of his bravery at Gallipoli, he was awarded Australia’s highest medal for bravery – the Victoria Cross. Some soldiers who fought with Jacka said he did so many brave things, he should have won many Victoria Crosses.
Like many men and women who served in World War One, Jacka came home, determined to make a better Australia. Jacka was elected Mayor of a Melbourne suburb called St Kilda. That is why the main road through the suburb is now named after him.
Can you find out if any streets in your city or suburb are named after Australians who served in World War One?
K is for Kit
Everything a soldier carries is called his kit. The kit for the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli included:
L is for Letters Home
If you went away for a long time, what would you tell your parents, family and friends?
During World War One, a letter took weeks, and often months to arrive. Sometimes, all the soldiers had time for was to fill in one of these cards.
M is for Medals
Medals are awarded for service. These are some of the medals awarded to Australians who fought in World War One.
Ask your Mum or Dad if any of your Grandparents or Great Grandparents fought in World War One. Maybe their medals are in a special place in the house. Why don’t you ask them to take you to an ANZAC Day parade? You could ask them if it is alright to wear your Grandparent’s medals.
N is for Nurses
The ANZACs called the nurses ‘front line angels.’
It took a long time to carry a wounded soldier to hospital because of the mud and cratered roads. To save time, some of the hospitals were built very close to the front line.
The nurses who worked in these hospitals were every bit as brave as the men. They too were cold and tired and sometimes their hospitals were bombed. But their job was to save lives. Many soldiers owe their lives to the ‘front-line angels’ who never left their side.
O is for Observation
The trenches were dug so that the soldiers could be protected from the terrible machine gun fire. The problem with being in a trench was that the soldiers could not look over the top without being shot at.
The ANZACs came up with some clever ideas.
P is for Poppy
A poppy is a beautiful red flower that grows all over the world.
After World War One, many of the battlefields were covered with poppies. Some soldiers believed that these poppies were so red because of all the suffering and blood on the battlefields.
Today the poppy is worn on Remembrance Day, the 11th of November. At 11 o’clock on that day, everyone is asked to be silent for just one minute. The silence is a chance to remember all those who have died in wars and to be glad that we are not at war today. If you have a calendar in your classroom, you could ask your teacher to mark the 11th of November. Ask your teacher to write ‘Remembrance Day.’
Q is for Questions
What do the letters ANZAC stand for?
When is ANZAC Day?
Where is Gallipoli?
Why would you wear a red poppy?
Can you find a street in your city named after an ANZAC?
Who was the Man with the Donkey?
What was his name? What was the Donkey’s name?
With the help of your teacher, why don’t you put together all of the food in a soldier’s rations. (Instead of bully beef, you could use a tinned meat like ‘Spam’.)
Why not use this recipe to make some ANZAC biscuits?
R is for Rising Sun
The first rising sun badge was designed in 1902. It was the shape of a crown with bayonets around it.
The ANZACs wore the badge on the side of their slouch hats. The same badge was placed on the grave of all the Australians who died.
It is still worn with pride by the Army today (pictured below).
S is for Simpson
Simpson used a donkey called Duffy to help him carry injured soldiers to safety at Gallipoli. Simpson’s full name was John Simpson Kirkpatrick.
T is for the Tomb
A soldier who dies in battle is usually buried in the country where the fighting occurs. Because the battles were so ferocious, after some battles there was no way of telling who some of the dead soldiers were. Imagine being buried so far from home, but without your name on the head stone. Imagine your family never knowing exactly where your grave was.
As a very special way of remembering these soldiers – and all soldiers who have died in wars – it was decided to bring one of the ‘unknown’ ANZACs back to Australia to be buried in the Australian War Memorial. Next time you visit Canberra, ask to be taken to the Australian War Memorial to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
U is for Uniforms
Soldiers in uniform. These postcards are from soldiers in the front lines. Often, such postcards were the only pictures families had of their sons and daughters for the duration of the war. ‘Dear Mother, Me and the lads in uniform. France 1917. Love Albert.’
V is for Villers-Bretonneux (Bret-on-er)
Villers-Bretonneux is a small French village which the ANZACs saved during World War One. A British General (who had won a Victoria Cross) said that the Australian attack was ‘perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war.’
The French were so thankful, they put a sign up in the village school. It is still there today. It says ‘Never forget Australia.’
The school is called Victoria College. The main street in Villers-Bretonneux is called Melbourne Road. It has a restaurant called ‘The Kangaroo’.
And even though they live in France, every year the students of Victoria College celebrate ANZAC Day. Does your school?
W is for War Memorials
In almost every small Australian town there is a war memorial with lots of names on it. If you stopped and took time to read the names, you would find that they belong to men and women from the town who went off to war, and never came home. That is why war memorials are very special places.
X is for Xenyl Chloride
Gas was used, as well as bullets and bombs. It was a nasty weapon which killed many ANZACs and left others very sick. Some ANZACs were so sick, that 60 years after being gassed, they were still in hospital. Imagine spending your entire life in a hospital.
Y is for Years
The ANZACs had to travel for weeks on ships when they went off to war, and also when they came home. Many had been away for almost four years.
By the time the ships got closer to Australia, the ANZACs were restless and very homesick. Some ANZACs missed Australia so much that they sat about waiting to see who would be the first to smell the gum trees. Others lay on the decks looking at the night sky waiting to see their first glimpse of the Southern Cross in years.
Z is for Zimmerman
(One of the Australians listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial)
61,720 Australians died in the First World War. All of their names have been recorded on the walls of the Australian War Memorial. This is called the Roll of Honour. The Roll of Honour lists the names of Australian Service men and women who have been killed in wars. Perhaps your family has a relative who will always be remembered because of a name which appears on the Roll of Honour?