On 25 April 1915 troops from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and France made a pre-dawn amphibious landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. During the eight months of fierce fighting that followed, some 8,000 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders lost their lives through combat, wounds or disease. This year marks the centenary of their brave action and it will be commemorated through several ceremonies across London.
The ANZACs, a predominantly Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (accompanied by officers from Britain and troops from Ireland, India, Zion, Ceylon and the Pacific islands), were unable to achieve their military objectives and capture Constantinople, but their shear tenacity, practicality, ingenuity and immense bravery enabled them to establish and keep a toehold on a peninsula that challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire. They held out until ordered to evacuate in December 1915.
More Aussie and Kiwi lives would be lost in Western Europe and North Africa during the course of the war, but Gallipoli stands out as Australia and New Zealand’s first major contribution in the global arena.
Commemorating Anzac Day
The first services related to Anzac Day took place in New Zealand just five days after the landing, but it was in 1916 that 25 April was officially named Anzac Day.
That year saw a variety of ceremonies across Australia and New Zealand, as well as a commemorative march through London by ANZAC troops.
Since then, even though support for the commemoration has waxed and waned, Anzac Day has been observed without fail every year, normally beginning with a dawn service to remember the fallen of Gallipoli and followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.
Anzac day in London – Saturday 25 April 2015
The day will begin with a dawn service at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner to remember those who took part in the Gallipoli Campaign. The service will last an hour and tickets are not required to take part. You will need to bring your ID along and may have to present it to gain access.
There will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall and the descendants of those who fought in the Gallipoli Campaign are invited to attend. It is worth noting that those who attend the wreath-laying ceremony will not be allowed to attend the service of commemoration and thanksgiving in Westminster Abbey.
A service of commemoration and thanksgiving will be held at Westminster Abby. Unfortunately, all tickets for this service have already been allocated and are non-transferable. If you are attending, you will be required to present the ID you used when you purchased your tickets. Doors will open at 10:30 and the hour-long service will begin at 13:00.