On 25 April every year, Australians commemorate Anzac Day – the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) was an acronym devised by Major General William Birdwood’s staff in early 1915. By 1917, the word ‘Anzac’ came to mean someone who fought at Gallipoli and later, any Australian or New Zealander who fought or served in the First World War.
During the Second World War, Anzac Day became a day to remember the Australians who lost their lives in battle. The spirit of Anzac recognises the qualities demonstrated at the Gallipoli landing – courage, mateship and sacrifice.
Commemorative services are held at dawn on 25 April, the time of the original landing, usually at war memorials across the nation. It is a day when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war, and gatherings are held to honour war veterans, including those who have passed and those who served and returned home.
Anzac quick facts
- ANZAC is an abbreviation for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
- April 25 was the day the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
- The Anzacs were on the Gallipoli Peninsula for only 8 months, around 8,000 of them died there.
- The Anzacs were all volunteers.
- The first dawn service on an Anzac Day was in 1923, and the first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927.
- The ritual of ‘standing to’ for soldiers is when they take up their assigned posts in readiness for inspection or battle usually before dawn, so that by the time the first dull grey light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert and manning their weapons.
- The Last Post gave one last warning to any soldiers still at large that it was time to retire for the evening. The Last Post is incorporated into funeral and memorial services as a final farewell and symbolises that the duty of the dead is over and that they can rest in peace.