It was a particularly special anniversary for Australians and New Zealanders in London on Saturday, marking 100 years of the Anzac Day legend.
In London, crowds were gathering before 3am at Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner for the annual Anzac Dawn Service. I was lucky enough to share some Anzac biscuits with friends when at around 4am the rain started drizzling down.
A didgeridoo echoed throughout the square to commence the service, which was hosted by Adam Hills and attended by almost 5000 Aussie and Kiwi expats. Also in attendance were Princess Anne, Bronwyn Bishop, David Carter, George Brandis, Kevin Rudd and various diplomatic officials and military personnel from New Zealand, Turkey and the UK.
Later in the morning I headed over to Saint Paul’s Cathedral for a small wreath laying service which took place in the crypt.The Duke of Edinburgh made an appearance to pay his respects on behalf of the Royal Family.
The most well attended service was on London’s Whitehall at 11am to commemorate all combatants in the Gallipoli campaign. Wreaths were laid by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Joining them were Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg, UKIP’s Nigel Farage as well as Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer along with his New Zealand counterpart, Sir Lockwood Smith. State dignitaries from France, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Canada and Belgium were also in attendance.
And of course, the band played Waltzing Matilda as the servicemen and veterans marched past at the closing of the ceremony.
The centenary Anzac commemoration is one that our nations will remember for decades to come. Among many unforgettable moments for me was hearing a young Australian boy in the crowd at Whitehall ask his father if there will always be an Anzac Day service in London. I’m sure there will be.
Lest we forget.
TOP IMAGE: Major John Titley of 3 Royal Australian Regiment smokes his pipe as he waits for the early morning ANZAC Day Dawn Service to start at Wellington Arch on April 25, 2015 in London. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)