Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Day

In Australia it is ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) Day.
I will set this post to go online at 4.15am Sydney time. Hopefully I will then be at the Dawn Service in Martin Place.
This tradition began in Sydney which still holds it at the time the soldiers actually landed at Gallipoli in 1915. To my knowledge all other towns and cities throughout Australia and New Zealand hold it at the more civilised hours of 5.30 or 6am.

I began attending in 1996 although I have not been every year. I always stayed with my mother and left about 3am to get to the city. Special trains and buses are provided.

In 2002 I was at the service at Gallipoli. I wrote about my visit to Anzac Cove in 2002 on my webpage which I maintained at the time. Photo (before I had a digital camera) shows me on the beach.

After visiting my Uncle's grave on the Somme and other battlefields and cemeteries in that area and around Ypres. I flew to Istanbul and travelled by bus to Eceabat where I stayed for 2 nights. On the 24th I went on a tour of the battlefield and cemeteries then on the 25th I left the hotel shortly after midnight and went by bus to Anzac Cove where I joined thousands waiting for the Dawn Service at 4.15. This service is for all countries involved - Turkey, Australia and New Zealand but also the UK. The participation by Turkey, our enemy at the time, is moving and shows the stupidity of war. Considering we were the invaders, they are very gracious.

We then travelled by bus to the Australian cemetery at Lone Pine for the Australian service (2nd photo) and I walked (ran) up the hill to Chunuk Bair for the New Zealand service. Third photo shows the Sphinx (named by the soldiers who had prepared in Egypt) which towers over Anzac Cove.

Later I returned to Eceabat for dinner before catching the coach back to Istanbul arriving at my hotel at 1am. A long, emotional day.

My sister began joining me for the Dawn Services in 2003. We argued that first time as she wanted me to wear green & gold ribbons for our troops in Iraq and I would not even wear an Australian flag at that time, just rosemary for remembrance.

In 2007 we were both in New York on Anzac Day but I did take her to the Somme and Ypres later and we attended the 9pm service at the Menin Gate.

Last year I was in Austria and hopefully next year I will be in New Zealand where the service in Dunedin is at 5.30am.

I do not want my sister to attend this year as she now suffers from TIA and often is forced to sit down during our long church services, I think hot, crowded conditions bring it on. At the Dawn service in the city there will be thousands and there are almost no seats.
Thankfully she has agreed and will attend the 5.30am service in the park a block from her home.

I have decided to go to the city but from home so will catch the special train leaving at 1.25am. I hope I do not chicken out when the alarm goes. I will read my novel (see last post) each way. It will be a doddle compared to what I did in 2002.

I have found the speech by Winston Peters at the Gallipoli Dawn Service in 2008. At the time he was New Zealand's Foreign Minister. He is a controversial figure but this speech is excellent. I note, in his list of wars in which Australia and New Zealand fought together, Iraq is missing. This is one of the many reasons for my move even though Australia has now also withdrawn under our new government.



And a Hymn for Anzac Day posted by Fr Bosco Peters.

1 comment:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Brian, yet more International recognition! Applause!

http://leonardoricardosanto.blogspot.com/2009/04/for-immediate-release-diary-of-gay.html