ANZAC Day, Australia


April 25th in Australia and New Zealand is ANZAC Day, a national holiday. It commemorates the day in 1915 that Australian and New Zealander soldiers landed in The Dardanelles in Turkey as part of an ill conceived campaign by the British against the Turks. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps as at the time there was no separate Australian and New Zealand army, this happened later in World War I.

Australia lost a huge proportion of its young men in World War I (which also affected its demographics as many young women in the 1920s never married, there simply weren't the men around to marry) and as soon as the war ended there was a push for memorials to the war dead.

Communities around Australia raised money for these memorials and they can be seen today. Many of them have been restored and names added onto them of the losses in conflicts after World War I. It's something I've noticed travelling around Australia, the memorials are always around, and with ANZAC Day having just occurred I thought I would post some of the memorials I've photographed in the past few months.

The Adelaide War Memorial, with the wreaths from the Dawn Service (6am the time of the original landing in Turkey in 1915) picture taken the afternoon of ANZAC Day. The memorial has 3 people, a woman, a scholar and a farmer looking up to the Angel of Death as he claims them. (The other side has the Angel of Mercy, a bit more positive!)

The Port Douglas (far north Queensland) memorial, which can be found in hundreds of small country towns, the soldier resting on his rifle. The ball in the background is a sea mine, the names at the front are from World War I and then names were added later those who lost their lives in other wars and were from Port Douglas.

Some places erected Remembrance Arches, these are rarer. This one is located in the Adelaide suburb of Brighton and has been restored. Originally for those who died in World War I, it has names from such recent conflicts as Iraq and Afghanistan.

About an hour through the Adelaide Hills and you come to the farming town of Strathalbyn, it was a fairly prosperous town so their memorial reflects that. There's still a soldier, but the memorial is more substantial with brass reliefs around it. The town had its commemorations on Monday and there are various wreaths from that ceremony.

Last year was the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs landing in Turkey and it seems the Strathalbyn council set about establishing a permanent memorial, this hedging is on the river bank just below the war memorial.

The Goolwa memorial, again is a soldier, this memorial has red poppies around it. Poppies tend to be the symbol for Remembrance Day which is in November, the day the Armistice was signed (11th hour, 11th day, 11th month) but they are starting to be used for ANZAC Day as well. The ANZAC Day symbol that's worn is rosemary as in "Rosemary for remembrance" so people pin a sprig of rosemary on their lapel.

When I looked at the poppies closely I saw that they were knitted, it may have been a community project to make them.

Some small towns went with a memorial garden which is what Middleton has now. Middleton would have been a tiny place in the early 20th century and yet the community still lost young men. From the names on the plaque it seems as though there was 2 sets of brothers.

For "King and Country" was very much the rallying cry, for many young Australian men it was also the lure of adventure which saw them signing up to go fight. They thought that the war would be over in 3 months and they would be able to leave Australia, have an interesting adventure in some foreign lands and then return home. That was not the case for most of them. (The majority never returned and are buried in those foreign lands)

It was thought as the World War I generation aged and died that commemorations for fallen soldiers would fade away, but that hasn't happened at all. Infact the numbers of people attending the commemorations have increased, the Port Elliot memorial has the original 1920s very simple memorial (reflective perhaps that that there wasn't much spare money in the community as it an obelix shape, next to it is a more recent memorial to all service personnel, army, navy and airforce.

The Soldiers Memorial Gardens in Victor Harbor, the smaller cross commemorates Australians who fought in the Battle of Long Tan in the Vietnam War, it's replica of the cross they erected there. The bigger cross is for this who died in World War II, members of the local community who died in World War I are listed at the entrance on a separate monument, which is very new so a restoration of what had originally been placed there I think.