The First Anzac Day


Gone but not forgotten

In April 1916, a year after the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, the first anniversary of the battle was observed in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. A grand memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by King George V and Queen Mary. Hundreds of New Zealand and Australian military personnel marched through the streets to the Abbey to attend the service.

In 1916 the first Anzac Day commemorations were held on 25 April to commemorate the Anzacs’ entering the war and the lives of their fallen comrades. The day was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services across Australia, in the Sydney march convoys of cars carried soldiers wounded on Gallipoli and their nurses. In London 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt where the Anzac forces trained before going to Gallipoli and were waiting to leave for the Western Front.

Australia and the British Empire were still at war, so while Anzac events in 1916 commemorated those who fought and died at Gallipoli, there was also an emphasis on Australia’s pride in entering the war –with patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns.

The first dawn services began in the 1920s, driven by returned soldiers and their families, with few other attendees. In these post-war years, Anzac Day was about commemoration and remembering the dead and fallen mates, combined with a sense of pride for being soldiers and proving themselves.  The day started with the solemn morning services before more cheerful afternoon celebrations, reflecting the returned soldier’s pride for their contribution on behalf of Australia to the Great War. By 1927 all states and territories had legislated for Anzac Day to become a public holiday.

Question: Which was the first state to legislate Anzac Day to be a public holiday? What year did that occur?  To find the answer go to

At 6am on ANZAC Day, light up the dawn by standing at the end of your driveway, on your balcony or in your living room to remember all those who have served and sacrificed. Share with us your thoughts, feelings, memories, photos and videos of how you experienced the morning. Post here or email

1 thought on “The First Anzac Day

  1. Ange Kenos Reply

    From the Essendon RSL to all who served in and near to Torquay (my second home – Fischer St) our deepest respects.

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