Anzac Day in London is a special time for Aussies and Kiwis.
Back home, it’s a day that sweeps across the entire nation. In the UK the main focus for commemoration is Remembrance Sunday, although it’s a markedly different occasion, with its funereal overtones, sombre dress and strong focus on sacrifice.
In Australia and New Zealand we also use Anzac Day to not only remember and respect our fallen, but also commemorate and even celebrate our nationhood.
In Australia, free of the controversy of Australia Day, it’s a uniting call to Australians of every race and creed to stand shoulder to shoulder in remembrance.
It was on the fire-raked beaches and slopes of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 that Australia was first tested as an independent nation on the world stage. The events at Gallipoli have since become a defining moment in the history of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.
Also read: Commemorating Anzac Day at Gallipoli, Turkey
Many Australians and New Zealanders are unaware that the Gallipoli Campaign extended far beyond the 59,000 Anzacs who landed at Anzac Cove. Britain committed seven times as many troops and their casualties were simply horrendous at places like Suvla Bay and Cape Helles. 80,000 French troops also served at Gallipoli, as did a battalion from Newfoundland.
The beach landings followed a large naval operation mounted along the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea. People seeking more information should check the website of the Gallipoli Association. This is a London-based international organisation with a wealth of information at its fingertips. The Gallipoli Association welcomes both enquiries and new members.
Anzac Day this year falls on Easter Monday, 25 April. The day begins in the grey light at Hyde Park Corner, where the Dawn Service is held from 5am. This is always a popular event attracting thousands of Aussies and Kiwis.
Some people move on to the wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall at 8am. This is followed by the Anzac Day service in Westminster Abbey at 9am. The Abbey is always filled to capacity and reserved tickets are necessary. The service for the Gallipoli Association is to be held in the Crypt at St Pauls Cathedral from 11am.
The Australian High Commission has all the details and times for Anzac Day activities in London.
Tickets for the Westminster Abbey service can be obtained through the Australian High Commission on 020 7379 4334. Book early as seats go fast.