In a mark of ANZAC unity, Australian High Commissioner John Dauth dedicated Sunday’s ANZAC Day services in London to the young New Zealand soldiers who tragically lost their lives en route to ANZAC events at the weekend.
The tragic death of the soldiers added extra poignancy to the solemn events in London, with Sunday’s ANZAC Day observers from Australia, New Zealand and Britain “grieving with” those rocked by the tragic loss of life.
33-year-old New Zealand Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, 25-year-old Corporal Benjamin Carson and 28-year-old Flying Officer Daniel Gregory died after their helicopter crashed near Wellington, on their way to ANZAC Day services in Auckland.
A fourth crewman, who was yet to be named, survived the crash and is thought to be in a serious but stable condition.
Dawn Service attendees in London were stunned by the news, with Australian High Commissioner John Dauth expressing his shock and sorrow on hearing about the crash while speaking at official events on Sunday.
Mr Dauth dedicated the Dawn Service, Wreath Laying Ceremony and Westminster Abbey Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving to the lost soldiers.
Mr Dauth sent out his condolences to all who were suffering due to the “tragic” event before beginning his reading at the Dawn Service.
“We grieve with them,” Mr Dauth said.
This year’s events marked the 95th anniversary of the day which commemorates the lives of Australian and New Zealand troops lost while serving for their countries.
The service was observed by more than in any previous year with an estimated 3000 people attending the Dawn Service at Hyde Park Corner on Sunday morning to ensure the ANZAC spirit lives on. The numbers were boosted by many who were unable to travel to Turkey for the ANZAC Day service at Gallipoli.
London’s joint Australian and New Zealand remembrance services commenced this year with the Dawn Service at the New Zealand War Memorial. The Maori ceremonial call ‘Karanga’ was followed by readings of some letters from soldiers who were on the frontline in 1915 and an address from New Zealand High Commissioner Derek Leask. The ceremony was concluded with hymns, prayers, the laying of wreaths, the national anthems and The Ode.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” read Australian Commodore Peter Lockwood.
“We will remember them,” followed the crowd of thousands, in unison.
London traffic came to a hushing standstill for The Last Post and two minutes silence.
A ceremonial blessing by Chaplain Wayne Tolefoa and a performance of the Haka — Waiata followed before the crowd moved on to the laying of wreaths at the Australian War Memorial.
One attendee said the London Dawn Service was more moving than attending the services in Turkey due to the settled nature of events.
Due to the London Marathon, the traditional march to Whitehall Memorial was not scheduled and the Whitehall Cenotaph wreath laying service commenced at 8am.
Wreaths were laid by Mr Dauth, Mr Leask as well as Australian, New Zealand and British defence and political representatives.
The Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving followed at Westminster Abbey at 9am, attended by The Duke of Gloucester.
“Today we celebrate the power of the living spirit in the name of God, in the way triumph came from tragedy,” Westminster Dean Dr John Hall said in his address, acknowledging the way Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Turkey have come together to commemorate the ANZAC legacy.
The Westminster Abbey service also included hymns, choir performances, Psalm readings and the national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Following the reading of the Act of Remembrance, the assembled’ reply of “We will remember them” sounded in unison through the abbey’s hallowed halls.
For the ANZAC Day report from Gallipoli, click here
To read the Australian Times interview with Australian High Commissioner John Dauth, click here