Aussies know 25th April as Anzac Day. I’ve done several posts on this, most memorably that of 2015 held in Bogan Gate. This year we commemorated at home.
It started with the 6am dawn service, which commenced with this introduction . . .
On this day above all others we recall those who served in war and did not return to receive the grateful thanks of the nation. We remember those who are still where they were left – amid the scrub of the valleys of ridges of Gallipoli – amid the terraced hills of Palestine – and in the cemeteries of France.
We remember those who lie beneath the shimmering haze of the Libyan desert, in the mountain passes and olive groves of Greece and Crete, and the rugged hills of Syria and Lebanon.
We remember those buried in the jungles of Malaya, Singapore, Burma, New Guinea and on the islands of the Pacific.
We remember those who rest among loving friends in Britain, those who died as prisoners of war and those whose grave is the unending sea.
We also think today of those who gave their lives in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam; and those who, in more recent times, died in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
It is to honour them and all who have served the nation in its times of danger that we have gathered here today.
We followed with prayers, hymns and the laying of wreaths. We are blessed to have amongst our community former members of the regular defence forces: air, navy and land; as well as several national service members and merchant navy. We were honoured to have a WWII vet join us from the attached aged care residence.
Unlike thousands of those who served, we then went off to a hearty breakfast, before ducking up to our balconies to enjoy yet another of these fabulous still and sunny mornings which have yet to learn than autumn is supposed to be here by now.
At 10am there was a fly-past from our local Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). This one featured their DC3 as well as the Catalina. I have written several posts on Catalinas so I won’t link them here. If you are an interested buff, probably inserting “catalina” into the search bar will reveal to you the riches hidden there. Meanwhile, any doubts that I was looking at “our” Catalina – which is fitted in WWII military configuration – were dispelled when I saw the sun glinting off its gun turret.
Simultaneously I was watching the main Sydney military march on TV. This march takes more than two hours to complete. Only those who served can wear their medals on the left chest (over the heart) . . . descendants marching in honour of deceased veterans wear those medals on the right chest. Frequently in past years well-meaning people have advised women they are wearing the medals on the wrong side – not realising they are speaking to servicewomen! So this year the organisers were at pains to emphasise “left hand veterans“.
So many things of note in this march, but several rang through to me. Since it has been 75 years since the end of WWII, the ranks behind each regimental banner are thinning drastically, but still you will get the vet who marches obstinately beside his mobility device. I saw one vet who was 102 years old. I saw a descendant of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. I didn’t have time to watch the march till its end, but it does include servicemen and women from a wide range of nations, and those currently serving.
GP Cox – if you would like actual details of who marches and which regiments you will find all the information here in the three links of order of march and summarised here on the ANZAC Day Sydney March Map.
Next on the agenda was the two-up. Anzac Day is the one day of the year when it is legal to play this game (yes, really). Now, if you want to know how to play the game properly, you should read this stuff. For the sake of expediency, we modify the game like this . . .
- Everybody throws in one dollar to participate.
- The player chooses heads or tails by putting their hands on the appropriate spot.
- Using a kip (paddle), the spinner tosses three coins (pennies) in the air (this is the only legitimate part of our version of game).
- Depending on the fall of the pennies, heads or tails wins. It’s the best of three.
- We continue each round until there is one winner.
- That winner gets all of the $1 coins in that pot.
This year one of our traditional winners completely lucked out, while a newcomer won three rounds.
Update: Many thanks to my neighbour who has just pointed out to me that in NSW it is also legal to play two-up on Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day 15th August) and Remembrance Day after 12pm (11 November, formerly known as Armistice Day – and still referred to as that by many of us “old-timers”).
After the commemorative marches all around the country people congregate at the nearest hotel. Once upon a time this was a males-only domain and it involved only returned servicemen. It was a kind of therapy amongst groups with shared experiences. These days every one joins in, and our on-site bar was no exception 🙂
Then, because we still think of ourselves as a sporting nation, there is a football match (NRL in New South Wales) starting at 4pm. I don’t follow football, so I have to confess that while many residents watched the game together in our community lounge, I was watching the back of my eyelids on my sofa. Having said that, I have gone in the footy tipping competition, so I am interested in the final score. I was happy to be woken to the news that my chosen team had won.
One other tradition synonymous with the day is baking Anzac Biscuits (not to be confused with hard tack biscuits). They are made from rolled oats and golden syrup and a few other ingredients. Since they contain no eggs they keep well and could be sent to the front in care packages. I was taught to flatten them slightly so they cooked to a crispy texture, but I note these days people tend to go with a fatter, chewier finish. In the below photo I have left two for the doves of peace to consume 🙂