Anzac Day

Anzac Day
Anzac Day
Anzac Day
Anzac Day Dawn Service at Kings Park, Western Australia, 25 April 2009, 94th anniversary
Observed by Memorial services, public holiday
Type Patriotic, Historical, Nationalist
Significance First landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli
Date 25 April
Observances Military parades, remembrance services
Related to Remembrance Day (Commonwealth of Nations),
Armistice Day

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries.[1][2] Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tonga. It is no longer observed as a national holiday in Samoa.



An Australian veteran on Anzac Day.

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.[3] The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand,[4] a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name. When war broke out in 1914, Australia and New Zealand had been dominions of the British Empire for thirteen and seven years respectively.

Gallipoli campaign

In 1915, Australian and New Zealander soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, according to a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk). What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans 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 after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied casualties included 21,255 from the United Kingdom, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed to achieve its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war, the actions of the Australian and New Zealander troops during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity in both countries. This has shaped the way their citizens have viewed both their past and their understanding of the present.

Foundations of Anzac Day

Anzac Day at Manly, Brisbane, Australia, 1922

On 30 April 1915, when the first news of the landing reached New Zealand, a half-day holiday was declared and impromptu services were held. The following year a public holiday was gazetted (officially declared) on 5 April and services to commemorate were organised by the returned servicemen.[5]

The date 25 April was officially named Anzac Day in 1916; in that year it was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia and New Zealand, including a commemorative march through London involving Australian and New Zealand troops. Australian Great War battalion and brigade war diaries show that on this first anniversary, units including those on the front line, made efforts to solemnise the memory of those who were killed this day twelve months previously. A common format found in the war diaries by Australian and New Zealand soldiers for the day commenced with a dawn requiem mass, followed mid-morning with a commemorative service, and after lunch organised sports activities with the proceeds of any gambling going to Battalion funds. This occurred in Egypt as well.

The small New Zealand community of Tinui, near Masterton in the Wairarapa, was apparently the first place in New Zealand to have an Anzac Day service, when the then vicar led an expedition to place a large wooden cross on the Tinui Taipos (a 1,200 ft (370 m) high large hill/mountain, behind the village) in April 1916 to commemorate the dead. A service was held on 25 April of that year.[6] In 2006 the 90th anniversary of the event was commemorated with a full 21-gun salute fired at the service by soldiers from the Waiouru Army Camp.

In London, over 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets of the city. A London newspaper headline dubbed them "The Knights of Gallipoli". Marches were held all over Australia in 1916; wounded soldiers from Gallipoli attended the Sydney march in convoys of cars, accompanied by nurses. Over 2,000 people attended the service in Rotorua.[5] For the remaining years of the war, Anzac Day was used as an occasion for patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns, and parades of serving members of the AIF were held in most cities. From 1916 onwards, in both Australia and New Zealand, Anzac memorials were held on or about 25 April, mainly organised by returned servicemen and school children in cooperation with local authorities.

Flags on the cenotaph in Wellington for the 2007 Dawn Service. From left to right, the flags of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia

Anzac Day was gazetted as a public holiday in New Zealand in 1920, through the Anzac Day Act, after lobbying by the New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association,[7] the RSA.[8] In Australia at the 1921 State Premiers' Conference, it was decided that Anzac Day would be observed on 25 April each year. However, it was not observed uniformly in all the States.

During the 1920s, Anzac Day became established as a National Day of Commemoration for the 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died during the war. The first year in which all the Australian states observed some form of public holiday together on Anzac Day was 1927. By the mid-1930s, all the rituals now associated with the day—dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, sly two-up games—became part of Australian Anzac Day culture. New Zealand commemorations also adopted many of these rituals, with the dawn service being introduced from Australia in 1939.[8]

Anzac Day since World War II

With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders lost in that war as well and in subsequent years. The meaning of the day has been further broadened to include those killed in all the military operations in which the countries have been involved.

Anzac Day was first commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in 1942, but, due to government orders preventing large public gatherings in case of Japanese air attack, it was a small affair and was neither a march nor a memorial service. Anzac Day has been annually commemorated at the Australian War Memorial ever since.[4]

In New Zealand, Anzac Day saw a surge in popularity immediately after World War II. However this was short-lived, and by the 1950s many New Zealanders had become antagonistic or indifferent towards the day. Much of this was linked to the legal ban on commerce on Anzac Day, and the banning by many local authorities of sports events and other entertainment on the day. Annoyance was particularly pronounced in 1953 and 1959, when Anzac Day fell on a Saturday. There was widespread public debate on the issue, with some people calling for the public holiday to be moved to the nearest Sunday or abolished altogether. In 1966 a new Anzac Day Act was passed, allowing sport and entertainment in the afternoon.[9]

A large commemoration march in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales (April 2008)

From the 1960s, but especially in the 1970s and 1980s, Anzac Day became increasingly controversial in both Australia and New Zealand. The day was used by anti-Vietnam War protesters to agitate against that war and war in general, and ceremonies were later targeted by feminists, anti-nuclear campaigners, Maori activists and others. From about the late 1980s, however, there was an international resurgence of interest in World War I and its commemorations. Anzac Day attendances rose in Australia and New Zealand, with young people taking a particular interest. Protests and controversy became much rarer.

Australians and New Zealanders recognise 25 April as a ceremonial occasion to reflect on the cost of war and to remember those who fought and lost their lives for their country. Commemorative services are held at dawn, the time of the original landing, mainly at war memorials in cities and towns across both nations and the sites of some of Australia and New Zealand's more-recognised battles and greatest losses, such as Villers-Bretonneux in France[10] and Gallipoli in Turkey.[11]

One of the traditions of Anzac Day is the 'gunfire breakfast' (coffee with rum added) which occurs shortly after many dawn ceremonies, and recalls the 'breakfast' taken by many soldiers before facing battle. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen meet and join in marches through the major cities and many smaller centres.

Dawn service

Poppies, a symbol of remembrance

After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, a dawn stand-to or dawn ceremony became a common form of Anzac Day remembrance during the 1920s.

The first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Dawn services were originally very simple and followed the operational ritual; in many cases they were restricted to veterans only. The daytime ceremony was for families and other well-wishers and the dawn service was for returned soldiers to remember and reflect among the comrades with whom they shared a special bond.

The wreath laying at the 2008 dawn service at the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London.

Before dawn the gathered veterans would be ordered to "stand-to" and two minutes of silence would follow. At the start of this time a lone bugler would play "The Last Post" and then concluded the service with "Reveille". In more recent times the families and young people have been encouraged to take part in dawn services, and services in Australian capital cities have seen some of the largest turnouts ever. Reflecting this change, the ceremonies have become more elaborate, incorporating hymns, readings, pipers and rifle volleys. Others, though, have retained the simple format of the dawn stand-to, familiar to so many soldiers.

Typical modern dawn services follow a pattern that is now familiar to generations of Australians, containing the following features: introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, recitation, the playing of "The Last Post", a minute of silence, "Reveille", and the playing of both New Zealand and Australian national anthems. At the Australian War Memorial, following events such as the Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services, families often place artificial red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial's Roll of Honour. In Australia, sprigs of rosemary are often worn on lapels[12] and in New Zealand poppies have taken on this role.[13]


The Last Post is played at an Anzac Day ceremony in Port Melbourne, Victoria, 25 April 2005. Ceremonies like this are held in virtually every suburb and town in Australia and New Zealand on Anzac Day each year.

In Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day commemoration features solemn "Dawn Services", a tradition started in Albany, Western Australia on 25 April 1923 and now held at war memorials around both countries, accompanied by thoughts of those lost at war to the ceremonial sounds of The Last Post on the bugle. The fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen (known as the "Ode of Remembrance") is often recited.


Anzac Day is a national public holiday and is considered by many Australians to be one of the most solemn days of the year. Marches by veterans from all past wars, as well as current serving members of the Australian Defence Force and Reserves, with allied veterans as well as the Australian Defence Force Cadets and Australian Air League and supported by members of Scouts Australia, Guides Australia, and other uniformed service groups, are held in cities and towns nationwide. The Anzac Day Parade from each state capital is televised live with commentary. These events are generally followed by social gatherings of veterans, hosted either in a public house or in an RSL club, often including a traditional Australian gambling game called two-up, which was an extremely popular pastime with ANZAC soldiers. The importance of this tradition is demonstrated by the fact that though most Australian states have laws forbidding gambling outside of designated licensed venues, on Anzac Day it is legal to play "two-up".

Despite federation being proclaimed in Australia in 1901, many[who?] argue the "national identity" of Australia was largely forged during the violent conflict of World War I,[14][15] and the most iconic event in the war for most Australians was the landing at Gallipoli. Dr. Paul Skrebels of the University of South Australia has noted that Anzac Day has continued to grow in popularity;[16] even the threat of a terrorist attack at the Gallipoli site in 2004[17] did not deter some 15,000 Australians from making the pilgrimage to Turkey to commemorate the fallen ANZAC troops.[18]

Although commemoration events are always held on 25 April, most states and territories currently observe a substitute public holiday on the following Monday when Anzac Day falls on a Sunday. When Anzac Day falls on Easter Monday, such as in 2011, the Easter Monday holiday is transferred to Tuesday.[19] This followed a 2008 meeting of the Council for the Australian Federation in which the states and territories made an in principle agreement to work towards making this a universal practice.[20] However in 2009, the Legislative Council of Tasmania rejected a bill amendment that would have enabled the substitute holiday in that state.[21]

Australian postage stamps

Australia Post has issued stamps over the years to commemorate Anzac Day, the first being in 1935 for the 20th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

The full list of issued stamps is as follows:

  • 1935 20th Anniversary (2 values) 2d Red and 1/- Black featuring the London Cenotaph.
  • 1965 50th Anniversary (3 values) 5d Khaki, 8d Blue and 2/3 Maroon featuring Simpson and his donkey.
  • 1990 75th Anniversary (5 values) 41¢ x 2, 65¢, $1, and $1.10 all featuring various Anzac themes.
  • 2000 ANZAC legends (4 values) 45¢ x 4 featuring Walter Parker, Roy Longmore, Alec Campbell and the Anzac medal.
  • In 1955, the then current 3½d Purple Nursing commemorative stamp was privately overprinted with the words "ANZAC 1915-1955 40 YEARS LEST WE FORGET" and a value ranging from 1d to £1 was also added which was the fundraising amount in addition to the legal cost of stamp of which the denomination was 3½d. Eight values were issued and were intended to raise funds for the Anzac commemorations. It is believed these stamps were authorised by the secretary of a leading Melbourne RSL club.

Australian Football

In attendance at the 2008 Anzac Day National Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra are Angus Houston, Chief of the Defence Force (Australia) (left), Murray Gleeson then Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (centre), Peter Cosgrove, immediate past Chief of the Defence Force (Australia) (second from right), and Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia (right).

During many wars, Australian rules football matches have been played overseas in places like northern Africa, Vietnam, and Iraq as a celebration of Australian culture and as a bonding exercise between soldiers.[22][23][24] In 1975, the VFL/AFL first commemorated Anzac Day and the Anzac spirit with a match of Australian rules football between Essendon and Carlton in a one-off match in front of a large crowd of 77,770 at VFL Park, Waverley, with Essendon coming out winners.[25]

The modern-day tradition began in 1995 and is played every year between traditional AFL rivals Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG. This annual blockbuster is often considered the biggest match of the AFL season outside of the finals, sometimes drawing bigger crowds than all but the Grand Final,[26] and often selling out in advance; a record crowd of 94,825 people attended the inaugural match in 1995.[27][28][29] The Anzac Medal is awarded to the player in the match who best exemplifies the Anzac Spirit – skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play.

Rugby League Football

Beginning in 1997, the ANZAC Test, a rugby league test match, has commemorated Anzac Day, though it is typically played a week prior to Anzac Day. The match is always played between the Australian and New Zealand national teams, and has drawn attendances between 20,000–45,000 in the past.

Domestically, matches have been played on Anzac Day since 1926 (with occasional exceptions). Since 2002, the National Rugby League (NRL) has followed the lead of the Australian Football League, hosting a match between traditional rivals St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters each year to commemorate Anzac Day in the Club ANZAC Game, although these two sides had previously met on ANZAC day several times as early as the 1970s.

New Zealand

Each year on ANZAC Day in Te Awamutu, New Zealand the graves of War Veterans are decorated

New Zealand's Commemoration of Anzac Day[30] is similar. The number of New Zealanders attending Anzac Day events in New Zealand, and at Gallipoli, is increasing. For some, the day serves as a reminder of the futility of war.[31] For most New Zealanders though, the day is an occasion on which to formally pay tribute and to remember.[citation needed]

Dawn Parades and other memorials nationwide are typically attended by the New Zealand Defence Force, the New Zealand Cadet Forces, members of the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Fire Service, Order of St John Ambulance Service (Youth and Adult Volunteers) as well as Scouting New Zealand, GirlGuiding New Zealand and other uniformed community service groups including in most places the local Pipe Band to lead or accompany the parade march, and sometimes a Brass Band to accompany the hymns.

Anzac Day now promotes a sense of unity, perhaps more effectively than any other day on the national calendar. People whose politics, beliefs and aspirations are widely different can nevertheless share a genuine sorrow at the loss of so many lives in war.

Paper poppies are widely distributed by the Returned Services Association and worn as symbols of remembrance. This tradition follows that of the wearing of poppies on Remembrance Sunday in other Commonwealth countries.[32]

The day is a public holiday in New Zealand. Shops are prohibited from opening before 1pm as per the Anzac Day Act 1966. A prior Act passed in 1949 prevents the holiday from being "Mondayised" (moved to the 26th or 27th should the 25th fall on a weekend),[33] although this has drawn criticism from trade unionists and Labour Party politicians.[34]


A view of Anzac Cove, Çanakkale, Gallipoli, Turkey.

In Turkey the name "ANZAC Cove" was officially recognised by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand:[35]

"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."

In 1990, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, Government officials from Australia and New Zealand (including Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke[37][38] and New Zealand Governor-General Paul Reeves[39]) as well as most of the last surviving Gallipoli veterans, and many Australian and New Zealand tourists travelled to Turkey for a special Dawn Service at Gallipoli. The Anzac Day Gallipoli Dawn Service has since attracted upwards of 15,000 people. Until 1999, the Gallipoli Dawn Service was held at the Ari Burnu War Cemetery at Anzac Cove, but the growing numbers of people attending resulted in the construction of a more spacious site on North Beach, known as the "Anzac Commemorative Site" in time for the year 2000 service.

In 2005, criticism surrounded the daybreak service at Anzac Cove after the screening of a rock concert-style commemoration of popular musical artists, with the site being left strewn with rubbish.[40][41]

Other overseas ceremonies

Boys Brigade review on 25 April 2005 (Rarotonga)
The High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand lay wreaths at an Anzac Day ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Anzac Day dawn service at the New Zealand Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, London, 25 April 2008.
Soldiers hold Turkish, New Zealand and Australian flags during a ceremony of the Anzac Day in Turkey
  • In Kanchanaburi, Thailand, a dawn service is held at Hellfire Pass, a rock cutting dug by allied Prisoners of War and Asian labourers for the Thai-Burma Railway. This cutting is where the greatest number of lives were lost during railway construction. The dawn service is followed by a "gunfire breakfast" (coffee with a shot (or two) of rum) recalling the 'breakfast' taken by many soldiers before facing battle. At 11am a second ceremony is held at the main POW cemetery in the city of Kanchanaburi, where 6,982 POWs are buried, mostly British, Australian, Dutch and Canadians. Over the years, both services have been attended by some Anzac ex-POWs and their families travelling from Australia, as well as ambassadors from the Australian and New Zealand consulates, the Kanchanaburi Provincial Governor, and others. The closest Saturday to Anzac Day also sees the ex-POWs attend an Australian Rules football match between the Thailand Tigers AFL club and a team invited from neighbouring Asian countries.
  • In the Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga Anzac Day is also commemorated to honour their soldiers who participated in the campaign.[citation needed]
  • In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea there is a dawn service at the Bomana War Cemetery.[citation needed] Bomana is the location of thousands of graves of Australian and New Zealand Servicemen who were killed during the New Guinea campaign of World War II.
  • In Newfoundland, Canada, the Gallipoli offensive is commemorated each year on 25 April by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who hold a march from Government House through the streets of St. John's ending at the National War Memorial. Members of both the Australian and New Zealand armed forces are invited each year to participate in the march and wreath laying ceremonies. Other Canadian communities also mark Anzac Day; Calgary has had a Cenotaph Service annually at Central Park with participation from the local military.[42]
  • In London, England, a dawn service is held, alternating between the Australian War Memorial, and the more recently constructed New Zealand War Memorial, both of which are at Hyde Park Corner. The day is also marked by a parade and wreath-laying at Whitehall, which is attended by official representatives and veterans associations of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other countries.[citation needed]
  • In France in the towns of Le Quesnoy and Longueval[43] and in the town of Villers-Bretonneux (on the next closest weekend) because on 25 April 1918, the village of Villers-Bretonneux was liberated by the Anzacs. The Australian Government holds an annual dawn service[10] at the Australian National Memorial just outside the small town of Villers-Bretonneux.
  • In French Polynesia, Anzac Day has been commemorated with an official ceremony held in Papeete since 2006.[44] The 2009 ceremony was attended by French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru, who praised the "courage and liberty" of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in a statement.[44]
  • In Germany, Anzac Day is commemorated in Berlin, at the Commonwealth Kriegsgräber, Charlottenburg. (Commonwealth War Graves).[45]
  • In Hong Kong, a simple dawn commemorative service is held at The Cenotaph (Hong Kong) in Central, with a member of the Hong Kong Police Band playing "The Last Post" and "Reveille" from the balcony of the nearby Hong Kong Club.[46]
  • In Indonesia, Anzac Day is commemorated in Jakarta, Balikpapan, Bangka Island, Bandung, Denpasar and Surabaya.[citation needed]
  • In Israel Anzac Day is commemorated at the Commonwealth War cemetery on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.[citation needed]
  • In Hodogaya a suburb of Yokohama, Japan, there is a small service held in the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.[citation needed]
  • In the United States, Anzac Day is commemorated at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood, California. The New Zealand and Australian Consulates-General rotate hosting the service. The largest expatriate community of New Zealanders and Australians are in Southern California, hence this location. In New York a small mid-morning tribute to Anzac Day is held in the roof garden in the British Empire Building in Rockefeller Plaza, 620 5th Avenue, overlooking St. Patrick's Cathedral, on the Sunday nearest 25 April; it is an annual tradition that has been held at this locale since 1950. In Washington DC, Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women observe Anzac Day at a dawn service at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on 25 April each year. In Hawaii the Marine Corps hosts an Anzac Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as "The Punchbowl", where several dignitaries from many countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. attend to commemorate the memory of all who have fallen for their country. In Santa Barbara, CA, Anzac Day is remembered by the expatriate Australian and New Zealand communities. In the absence of an official World War I remembrance, several dignitaries from many countries including Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. attend an 11.11am morning service held at the Elings Park Veteran’s Memorial Walk on 25 April of each year. Two-up and a sausage sizzle follows the event.[citation needed]
  • In Ireland, Anzac Day is remembered by the expatriate New Zealand and Australian communities. In the absence of an official World War I remembrance, and in honour of Irish soldiers who fought and perished in the Dardanelles and elsewhere, Anzac Day commemorations are also attended by members of veterans groups and historical societies, including the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, O.N.E.T., the Royal British Legion, UN Veterans, and more. Since the mid-1980s, an evening service has been organised by the New Zealand-Ireland Association,[47] which currently takes place in St Ann's Church, Dawson St, Dublin 2. For the 90th anniversary in 2005, a daylight service was held for the first time in the re-furbished Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin 7. A Turkish Hazel tree, planted by the Ambassadors of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, commemorates this occasion. It can be found to the south of the limestone Memorial Wall. Since this date, a dawn service has been held at this location. At the Ballance House in County Antrim, the official New Zealand centre in Northern Ireland, a midday Anzac reception and act of remembrance takes place. An Anzac Tea Dance is held every year by the Dun Laoghaire branch of the RBL.[citation needed]
  • In Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England, a parade is held on the nearest Sunday to Anzac Day. The service is held in a graveyard with several war graves of service men from Australia and New Zealand. Veterans and cadets from the local ATC squadron attend. In 2009, Filton cadets provides a band.[citation needed]
  • A service of remembrance to commemorate Anzac Day and Gallipoli is held at the National Memorial Arboretum. This commences with a service in the chapel followed by wreath laying at the Gallipoli memorial.

Criticism and protests

Anzac Day has been criticised by a number of Australians and New Zealanders.[48][49] One early controversy occurred in 1960 with the publication of Alan Seymour's classic play, The One Day of the Year,[50] which dramatised the growing social divide in Australia and the questioning of old values. In the play, Anzac Day is critiqued by the central character, Hughie, as a day of drunken debauchery by returned soldiers and as a day when questions of what it means to be loyal to a nation or Empire must be raised. The play was scheduled to be performed at the inaugural Adelaide Festival of Arts, but after complaints from the Returned Services League, the governors of the Festival refused permission for this to occur.[51]

Anzac Day has also been marked by protests against contemporary wars; for instance, protests against the Vietnam War were common Anzac Day occurrences during the 1960s and 1970s.[52][53] In the 1980s, Australian feminists used the annual Anzac Day march to protest against rape and violence in war and were banned from marching.[54][55] There were also Anzac Day protests in New Zealand, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1967, two members of the left-wing Progressive Youth Movement in Christchurch staged a minor protest at the Anzac Day ceremony, laying a wreath protesting against the Vietnam War. They were subsequently convicted of disorderly conduct, but that was not the last time that the parade was used as a vehicle for protest. In 1978, a women's group laid a wreath dedicated to all the women raped and killed during war, and movements for feminism, gay rights, and peace used the occasion to draw attention to their respective causes at various times during the 1980s.[56] More recently, protest groups have expressed concern about New Zealand's involvement in 18 United Nations missions including Afghanistan, Solomon Islands and East Timor.[57][58]

Young Australians at a dawn service at Anzac Cove 2007, Çanakkale, Gallipoli, Turkey.

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Following Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, interest in Anzac Day reached its lowest point. On 26 April 1975, The Australian newspaper covered the passing of Anzac Day in a single story.[59] Anzac Day now draws record crowds,[60] with an increasing number of those attending being young Australians,[61][62] many of whom attend ceremonies swathed in Australian flags, wearing green and gold T-shirts and beanies and with Australian flag tattoos imprinted on their skin.[15][63][64][65] This phenomenon has been perceived by some as a reflection of younger generations of Australians wanting to honour the sacrifices made by the previous generations.[66] However, critics contend that the revived interest in Anzac day is a result of the efforts of former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to encourage a greater feeling of national pride in the Australian populace, involving an "uncritical and self-serving embrace of the Anzac spirit".[67][68][69] Although the Anzac revival was well under way before Howard came to office, his critics claim the Prime Minister encouraged this phenomenon through his willingness to emphasise the Anzac tradition and its significance in contemporary Australia.[70][71][72][73]

Some critics have suggested that the revival in public interest in Anzac Day amongst the young is tempered by the fact that these younger Australians have not themselves experienced war.[74][75][76] For decades, there have been concerns that the participation of young people in Anzac Day events has injected a carnival element into what is traditionally a solemn occasion. This was highlighted by a rock concert-style performance at Anzac Cove in 2005 where people drank and slept between headstones. After the event the site was left strewn with rubbish.[40][41][77]

In October 2008, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating stated that he believes it is misguided for people to gather each year at Anzac Cove to commemorate the landing at Gallipoli, because it is "utter and complete nonsense" to suggest that the nation was "born again or even, redeemed there."[78] former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rejected Keating's views, saying the Gallipoli campaign is "part of our national consciousness, it's part of our national psyche, it's part of our national identity, and I, for one, as Prime Minister of the country, am absolutely proud of it."[79]

Other criticisms have revolved around a perceived overzealousness in Australian attachment to the event, at the expense of remembrance of the contribution of New Zealand. John Howard shunned[80] the New Zealand Anzac service at Gallipoli in 2005, preferring instead to spend his morning at a barbecue on the beach with Australian soldiers. In 2009, New Zealand historians noted that some Australian children were unaware that New Zealand was a part of Anzac.[81]

See also


  1. ^ "ANZAC Day". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Anzac Day Today". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "ANZAC DAY" IN LONDON.; King, Queen, and General Birdwood at Services in Abbey." New York Times. 26 April 1916.
  4. ^ a b "The ANZAC Day tradition". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 May 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "The making of Anzac Day", New Zealand History online - Nga korero aipurangi o Aotearoa, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand. Accessed 16 June 2007.
  6. ^ Tinui war memorial, New Zealand History online - Nga korero aipurangi o Aotearoa, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand. Updated 20 April 2007. Accessed 19 April 2009.
  7. ^ RSA - Remembrance - RSA History - RSA: Ninety Years of Service
  8. ^ a b A sacred holiday - Anzac Day, New Zealand History online - Nga korero aipurangi o Aotearoa, History Group, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand. Accessed 16 June 2007.
  9. ^ Helen Robinson, 'Lest we Forget? The Fading of New Zealand War Commemorations, 1946-1966', New Zealand Journal of History, 44, 1 (2010).
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
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