WE’RE NOW on our way into April, which means Anzac Day is just around the corner. Anzac Day – Thursday, 25 April 2013– is always a big day for Aussies and Kiwis in London.
Back home Anzac Day is such a huge event that many of us miss the nation-wide sweep of the occasion when we arrive in London. For Brits, their big day is Remembrance Sunday. It is a very different occasion which many Aussies find somewhat curious, with its sombre, funereal overtones, black dress and strong focus on sacrifice.
Traditionally, Aussies have always used Anzac Day to remember and respect our fallen and passed military. We also see it as a day to commemorate and even celebrate our nationhood. Free of the controversy of Australia Day (which can offend indigenous Australians) Anzac Day is a uniting call to Australians of every race and creed to stand shoulder to shoulder in remembrance of past sacrifices and to celebrate our nationhood.
It was on the fire-raked beaches and slopes above Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 that Australia was first tested as an independent nation on the world stage. It was not found wanting. The events at Gallipoli have since become a defining moment in the history of three nations: Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.
For many of us, Anzac Day in London is a pleasant reminder of home and what it really means to be an Aussie or a Kiwi, as the rest of London goes about another busy day. In the grey light of dawn at Hyde Park Corner thousands of us will stand near the Australian Memorial at 5 am for a few quiet minutes of reflection and contemplation.
You can play your part by making a small donation towards a Legacy pin to help support Aussie war widows living in the UK. And don’t forget to wear your sprig of rosemary as a mark of respect and remembrance on Anzac Day. After the Dawn Service many people grab a coffee or tuck into a good breakfast. Just across the road the Intercontinental Hotel (corner of Piccadilly and Park Lane) puts on a full Anzac Day breakfast at HALF PRICE for all those attending the Dawn Service.
Many people also move on to the wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall at 11am. It always feels like a breeze of home to see Aussie slouch hats on parade.
Finally, a special Anzac Day service is held each year in Westminster Abbey at mid-day. But don’t be disappointed – you’ll need to reserve tickets through the Australian High Commission: or call: 020 7379 4334.
How about free trip to Gallipoli? London Legacy is running a raffle in conjunction with On-The-Go Tours and the prize is a 10 day tour of Turkey (including Gallipoli). Valued at £1700, the tour includes airfares, accommodation and most meals. see: www.onthegotours.com. To get books of 5 x £4 tickets email: [email protected].
If you have a bit of time on your hands, why not volunteer to help sell Legacy pins on Anzac Day – or assist London Legacy generally? You’ll be working with other Aussies and really helping a good cause. If you can help pIease contact President Lindsay
Birrell: [email protected] or call: 07505 145461.
Simon Kleinig is Hon. Secretary of London Legacy. For more information about London Legacy see www.legacy.com.au.