Anzac Day

Published on 09 October 2019


Anzac Day is 25 April and is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years, and the new federal government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world.

When Britain declared war in August 1914 Australia was automatically placed on the side of the Commonwealth. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months.

At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships.

More than 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed.

The Gallipoli campaign had a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

Information provided by the Australian War Memorial website.

Who enlisted from City of Burnside area?

You can research who enlisted from the Burnside area via the RSL Virtual War Memorial website. Click on Explore followed by Places and then search via suburbs. Zoom in to reveal the names of those who enlisted from a particular City of Burnside suburb.

The site will also show you where major memorials are located across Burnside.

Alternatively, please visit the Honouring Anzacs website for more information.

The Ode

One traditional recitation on Anzac Day is the Ode:

They shall grow not 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.

-Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

The Ode provided by the Army website. For more information click here.

Anzac Poem - 'The Last to Leave'

The guns were silent, and the silent hills

had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze

I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,

And whispered, “What of these?’ and “What of these?

These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,

Some crossless, with unwritten memories

Their only mourners are the moaning waves,

Their only minstrels are the singing trees

And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully

I watched the place where they had scaled the height,

The height whereon they bled so bitterly

Throughout each day and through each blistered night

I sat there long, and listened – all things listened too

I heard the epics of a thousand trees,

A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew

The waves were very old, the trees were wise:

The dead would be remembered evermore-

The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,

And slept in great battalions by the shore.

- Leon Gellert

The Last to Leave provided by All Poetry website.

Read more Anzac poems

Interesting Fact - The Anzac Biscuit

During World War I, the friends and families of soldiers and community groups sent food to the fighting men. Due to the time delays in getting food items to the front lines, they had to send food that would remain edible and retain a high nutritional value, without refrigeration, for long periods of time; the Anzac biscuit met this need.

Although there are variations, the basic ingredients are: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water.

The biscuit was first known as the Soldiers’ Biscuit. The current name, Anzac Biscuit, has as much to do with Australia’s desire to recognise the Anzac tradition and the Anzac biscuit as part of the staple diet at Gallipoli.

The Anzac biscuit is one of the few commodities that are able to be legally marketed in Australia using the word ‘Anzac’, which is protected by Federal Legislation.

Information provided by the Army website.


One of a series of photographs taken by official photographers of the Australian War Records Section: four soldiers pictured in a trench with their satchels and canteens hanging on pegs and the foxholes behind them.

Image provided by the Anzac Centenary South Australia website courtesy of State Library of South Australia.

Personal reflections

The Anzac Centenary period also commemorates 100 years of service and therefore stories are invited from all families and communities who have had servicemen and women involved right through to modern conflicts. If you would like to add your personal reflections about what the Anzac Centenary means to you please visit the Anazac Centenary South Australia website. Your stories will be harvested for inclusion in the Anzac Centenary South Australia Time Capsule Project.

Tagged as: