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Anzac Day in Australia and around the world

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ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia’s most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.  The 25th of April was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916. It was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia.

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke 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, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.


Thousands have attended dawn services to celebrate Anzac Day, not only in New Zealand and Australia but throughout the world.

Around 40,000 people attended the Anzac Day service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, from the very young to the very old. Flags flew at half mast during the service, which began at 5.45am local time.

Large crowds also turned out for services in Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart.

Organisers were hopeful to match the record 10,000 people who attended the ceremony at the Hobart Cenotaph above the River Derwent last year.

In Sydney, thousands carried on the tradition which started in 1927 when an elderly woman laid flowers at the Cenotaph to commemorate Anzac soldiers.

ONE News Australia correspondent Steve Marshall said there was a massive Kiwi presence at the Sydney service, where a solemn address was delivered by Admiral Tim Barrett before wreaths were laid and the last post was played.

More than 18,000 people overflowed from Anzac Square in Brisbane, despite organisers asking for people to watch the dawn service on screens in King George Square.

Rooftop remembrance

Further away in the US, two special services are planned in New York to mark Anzac Day.

A service held on the roof of the 70-storey Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan is particularly popular, with hundreds queuing every year hoping to get a ticket. A lottery was held this year to allocate tickets.  The special service to remember Anzac soldiers began in 1941 at the request of a Kiwi silent film actress-turned-newsreader who befriended the Rockefeller family.

Another service is planned in Ypres in Belgium, but every evening at 8pm the last post is performed at Menin Gate as a tribute to the sacrifice made by allied soldiers in defence of the town during World War II.

Early this morning, the performance was attended by around 100 New Zealanders, as well as New Zealand and Australian military personnel.