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Remembering ANZAC

This fragile printed souvenir was published in London to mark the one year commemoration of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. Australians and New Zealanders were raucously welcomed by Londoners and were feted as brave and handsome heroes. The events of the day were reported in a number of British and Australian newspapers and the sentiments expressed about the men who landed at ANZAC Cove one year prior, perhaps perpetuated some of the myths which can still surround the landings at Gallipoli one hundred years on.

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Souvenir in commemoration of the first anniversary of the 'Anzac landing in Gallipoli'

A memorial service was held in London on the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. This service was held at Westminster Abbey and the King and Queen were in attendance, along with General Sir William Birdwood who had recently been knighted for his service at Gallipoli. According to The Times, the streets outside the Abbey were ‘thronged by thousands on thousands to whom the appeal of the remembered deeds of April 25, 1915, were irresistible.’ Those who received the most attention were the wounded who had been transported from their hospitals for the day. It was reported that these men were; 

‘attended by nurses in grey cloaks with red collars. Many of the soldiers appeared to have almost completely recovered from their wounds. Some, who had lost a leg, came in on crutches; others limped in on sticks. They all looked cheerful and hearty.’ 

There were also a group of blinded men who attended the service who, ‘bore themselves proudly’. There were over 100 severely wounded men who attended, including one New Zealander, Trooper Geange of the 6th Wellington Mounted Battalion who was lying on pillows in an invalid carriage with a shattered spine. He attracted the King's notice after the service and he shook hands with Trooper Geange and spoke a few words of sympathy with him.

It was reported that just after 10am, a thousand of the Australian troops came swinging over Waterloo Bridge in columns of four towards Westminster Abbey; 

‘Fine strong men they were, with bronzed faces. They marched casually but not carelessly, and their body movements suggested above all else health and strength. A great shout of welcome met them as they turned into the Strand … Mingled with the shrill hurrahs of the women and the hoarser greetings of the men came echoing calls of “Coo-ee”. After a few minutes Britishers too tried to give the call, but with only partial success, and most of them came back to the national “hurrah”.’

After the service, more than 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets of the capital to a rapturous reception from the crowds. It was reported that there were no ‘trappings of military pomp, except the music of martial bands. They carried no rifles; they marched on foot, only the bare khaki of their uniforms showed them for what they were – veterans of the Gallipoli landing, come from Australia and from New Zealand to fight for Great Britain.’  

It was reported in Australian newspapers that there was dissatisfaction amongst Australian troops as to who were included in the march. The men of the Light Horse had been chosen to head the procession, while the men of the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Brigades, who were in the original landing, were in the rear of the procession. The newspapers reported that ‘there were many heart-burnings, it is alleged, because the smaller men were not selected, but had to remain in the camps, while the "giants" were included in the procession - some, of whom had never seen the Gallipoli Peninsula.’  

After the march, the troops were served lunch at the Hotel Cecil where Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes gave a speech praising the bravery and tenacity of the men who landed at Gallipoli one year prior. Hughes’ language of high patriotism helped cement the mythology around the ANZAC landing; 

‘Soldiers, your deeds have won you a place in the Temple of the Immortals. The world has hailed you as heroes. Your comrades of the British Army claim you as brothers in arms, and the citizens of the Empire are proud to call you kinsmen … You have covered yourselves with the glory that does not fade, your names will be handed down in your own native land and become household words.’ 

After the lunch, the troops attended His Majesty’s Theatre for a matinee performance.

Early on in the war, Australian troops were greeted enthusiastically by Londoners, as evidenced by the 1916 memorial service and march. The ANZACs had made a name for themselves at Gallipoli and their distinctive uniforms, their happy, charming demeanour and the fact they were the best paid troops in the Empire, meant they were very popular in London, particularly with women. By the conclusion of the war, the relationship had become strained. Instances of bad behaviour were reported in British newspapers and in some quarters, Australian soldiers had gained a bad reputation. Likewise, Australian servicemen and women were eager to return home to Australia, having had their fill of cold climates and some five years of grinding war.

This souvenir from the first anniversary of the Anzac landings is currently on display in the Library's Amaze Gallery.

The State Libray will be showing selected items from its First World War collection on 25 April at its Anzac buffet from 1pm to 3pm

References:

The ANZAC tradition: early commemorations, Australian War Memorial website, https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/, accessed 5 Feb. 2016.

Public Tribute To Anzacs." Times [London, England] 24 Apr. 1916: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

"In Honour Of Anzac." Times [London, England] 26 Apr. 1916: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

"Mr.Hughes On Empire." Times [London, England] 26 Apr. 1916: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

ANZAC DAY. (1916, April 27). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved February 5, 2016

ANZAC DAY. (1916, April 27). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9.

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