Anzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
An Anzac Day service conducted at the AA/AD Memorial at Woodside
About the Anzac Day
When is Anzac Day?
Anzac Day falls on the 25th of April each year. The 25th of April was officially named Anzac Day in 1916.
What does ‘ANZAC’ stand for?
‘ANZAC’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. These became known as Anzacs and the pride they took in that name continues to this day.
Why is this day special to Australians?
On the morning of 25 April 1915, the Anzacs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.
The Anzacs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months.
At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli and the events that followed had a profound impact on Australians at home. The 25th of April soon became the day on which Australians remember the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
The Anzacs were courageous and although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy.
What does Anzac Day mean today?
With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. The meaning of Anzac Day today includes the remembrance of all Australians killed in military operations.
What happens on ANZAC Day?
Anzac Day remembrance takes two forms. Commemorative services are held at dawn – the time of the original landing in Gallipoli – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are more formal and are held at war memorials around the country.
A typical Anzac Day ceremony may include the following features: an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, a recitation, the Last Post, a period of silence, either the Rouse or the Reveille, and the national anthem. After the Memorial’s ceremony, families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour, as they also do after Remembrance Day services.
Rosemary is also traditionally worn on Anzac Day, and sometimes on Remembrance Day. Rosemary has particular significance for Australians as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Since ancient times, this aromatic herb has been believed to have properties to improve the memory.