Anzac Day

Anzac Day

Anzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

The day commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.

This year is different. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional Torquay Dawn Service, and veterans’ march will not take place.

The Torquay RSL has advised that the flags at Point Danger will be lowered to half-mast on ANZAC Day. People and organisations are welcome to place wreaths or poppies on the memorials, but the Coronavirus rules on gatherings must be adhered to – no bunching together.

We are encouraged to pay our respects at dawn on Anzac Day by standing in our driveway with a lighted candle. At the same time, we remember all who have died for Australia over the many years, and for those who continue to serve Australia in overseas conflicts.

WHY IS ANZAC DAY SO SPECIAL?

25 April marks the landings of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli in 1915. This campaign was a complete military disaster for the Anzacs as part of the Allied force. By the time of their retreat in December 1915, 44,000 Allied soldiers had died, including more than 8700 Australians and 2779 New Zealanders. The victory also came at a high price for the Ottoman Empire, which lost 87,000 men repelling the invasion. 

On both sides of the Tasman we mark Anzac Day as a heroic defeat, a baptism of fire for both nations. This has overshadowed the loss of 46,000 Australian deaths on the Western front with a further 124,000 were wounded (sometimes multiple times) and as a result, these men endured years of ill health, disfigurement or disability.

Australian troops were sent to be part of an Imperial army. Most Australians believed that they were a part of the British Empire and wanted to do all they could to protect it. Some believed the Great War was a coming of age for Australia, it shaped our sense of identity as a nation. The war highlighted Australian attributes of mateship, of bravery, tenacity, ingenuity and a tendency to have contempt for the British class system. For those who lost loved ones these were matters of little significance, and for them the day remains one of commemoration. For Australia, from a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. This equates to half the men aged between 20 and 40 being killed or wounded.

Across the Surf Coast Shire 617 men and women served overseas from the 700 enlistments. One hundred thirty-two of these men died as a result of the war.