Wednesday, 18 April 2012

25th April ANZAC Day Remembrance

"Brave ANZAC's", Heddon Bush School Children,
Southland, New Zealand. Taken Apr 1917
[From my own Collection]

The 25th of April marks a rare day each year when the two sovereign nations of Australia and New Zealand both commemorate those servicemen and servicewomen who have served and also fallen in military operatons for their respective countries.

Servicemen recuperating from war injuries at the New Zealand
 Convalescent Hospital at "Grey Towers" Hornchurch,  England,
an unpublished photo taken circa late 1916 - early 1917.
A family relative, HG Simpson, appears in the group.
[From my own collection]

The date itself is significant as being the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula during "The Great War" [World War One] in 1915. This ill-fated and bloody campaign aimed to capture the Turkish Dardanelles then push onto and capture Constantinople, thus knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops left a powerful legacy which became known as the "ANZAC Spirit", demonstrating courage, endurance, ingenuity, mateship, egalitarianism, good humour and not infrequently irreverence in the face of authority!

Sling Military Training Camp at Bulford on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire,
England. New Zealand servicemen awaiting troopships home after the
war carved the Kiwi and letters "NZ" into the chalk hillside, this
 distinctive "memorial" remains to this day. Taken 1919.
[From my own collection]

The Anzac spirit was particularly popularised by Charles Bean, Australia's official war historian who encapsulated the meaning of Anzac in his publication" Anzac to Amiens" :

"Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valor in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat."

An autographed Bed Cover sent by the Heddon Bush
 Branch of the Red Cross Society for use at a
Servicemen's Convalescent Hospital, 1918.
[From a glass negative in my personal collection]

Originally instigated in New Zealand as a national day of mourning and remembrance on the 25th April 1916, ANZAC Day shows no sign of lessening of interest amongst younger generations. While not glorifying war, many attendees of dawn celebrations throughout both countries now view ANZAC Day as a day of reflection with the hope that we are never again faced with war and conflagration on such a scale as we have jointly suffered.

A close-up of the above bed cover, showing some of the
 cartoons and drawings by local Heddon Bush well-
wishers. Taken 1918.
[From my own collection]

The eloquent words of Kemal Atatürk [President of the first Turkish Republic] delivered in 1934 which epitomise the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness between former foes, but also of hope for the future, are jointly inscribed on memorials at ANZAC Beach at Gallipoli, in Canberra Australia and in Wellington New Zealand :

"Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well."

The Red Poppy, now synonymous with
ANZAC Day and as a fundraiser for
Returned Sevicemen's Associations in
 New Zealand since 1922.
[Source : Internet] 

My 2013 Blog on ANZAC Day can be viewed HERE.

Bibliography :
- Wikipedia
- NZ History On-Line
- Unless otherwise stated all images are from my own personal collection. These may not be used for any commercial purpose without my express permission but may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.

1 comment:

  1. That was nicely presented. Not too jingoistic.

    When I saw your photo of the staff and patients at the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital in Hornchurch, it reminded me of similar photo at London’s Roehampton Hospital.

    A truly heroic New Zealand plastic surgeon, Dr Harold Gillies, had worked in France during the war with the Red Cross. Back in Britain after the war ended, he improved plastic surgery and worked on 5,000+ soldiers with devastating facial injuries.

    It is a great story to remind ourself of, this ANZAC Day.


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