Today is Anzac Day (Anzac: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). To quote the Victorian ANZAC Day Act 1958:
In commemoration of the part taken by Victorian troops in the Great War and in memory of those who gave their lives for the Empire, and in commemoration of the service of Australians for their country in subsequent conflicts and peacekeeping activities, the twenty-fifth day of April in each year (being the anniversary of the first landing on Gallipoli of troops from the United Kingdom Australia and New Zealand) shall be known as ANZAC Day.
If you know your WW1 history, you’ll know that the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster. After eight months the Allied forces were evacuated. Allied deaths included 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand. At that time Australia’s population was less than five million. To remember those who had died (and many more who were injured) Anzac Day was instituted.
This morning I set my alarm for 4.30 – not something I’ve done for many years. Why? I’ve been to watch our Melbourne Anzac parade on a number of occasions but to now have never made it to the 5.30a.m. Dawn Service, something I’ve felt I should do at least once. I was one of about 40,000 attending.
It was a moving occasion. In the darkness Master of Ceremonies Justin Smith reminded us that this year marks 70 years since the armistice of the Korean War, in which 339 Australian soldiers died. Those who returned weren’t given the recognition that they deserved, as was the fate of Vietnam vets twenty years later.
The Last Post was sounded, followed by a minute’s silence. The poem In Flanders Field was recited by Caitlin Fankhauser, the Shrine’s Young Ambassador. The MSO Chorus and Navy Band sang Abide with me and the New Zealand and Australian national anthems. The dignitaries moved to the Shrine sanctuary to lay wreaths.
Then home. I watched the parade on TV so the following pictures come courtesy of the ABC.
The march lasts for nearly three hours with representatives of around 370 units taking part. School and other bands provide the music. Here are the very impressively dressed members of the Melbourne High School band.
Here are a just a few of the more eye catching and interesting banners:
As can be seen from their banner, the 4th Light Horse saw service across the battlefields of WW1. Those marching behind the banner are descendants of those who fought.
Medals are worn on the left breast by those to whom they were awarded; descendants wear their ancestors medals on their right breast. According to the RSL rules photos of the person being commemorated are not to be carried but a good few people don’t comply.
The march reminds us that every military force relies on all sorts of support operations, supplies, fuel, medical care, communications, engineers and here transport in the shape of the 118th Australian General Transport, aka ‘Usher’s Mob’.
I have no idea as to who Usher was, but his mob keep his name alive. The entire resources of the internet have failed to answer this question. If you find an answer please let me know via the comments.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated Catalina flying boats as night raiders, laying mines in the southwest Pacific deep in Japanese-held waters.
In late 1944, mining missions sometimes exceeded 20 hours in duration and were carried out from as low as 200 ft (61 m) in the dark. Catalinas also regularly mounted nuisance night bombing raids on Japanese bases, with the RAAF claiming the slogan “The First and the Furthest”.
The Odd Bods Association was formed by ex-RAAF. and Allied Air Force members who had served in the UK, Europe and the Middle East in non-RAAF. units, mostly Royal Air Force units.
Once back in Australia they wanted an association of their own so that they could hold reunions and remember those who had lost their lives in the many conflicts during the war. Thus the formation of the Odd Bods Association in 1947.
460 Squadron was formed from members of 458 Squadron and operated from RAF Breighton flew the most sorties of any Australian bomber squadron and dropped more bomb tonnage than any squadron in the whole of Bomber Command.
And lastly, a thank-you to the Scouts and Guides who acted as marshals.
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