Anzac Day

Anzac Day is our national day of commemoration.

25 April marks the day the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli in 1915. 

Ceremonies in Australia

Anzac Day commemorations traditionally begin with dawn services around Australia and at important sites across the globe. Services are held at the same time as the original Gallipoli landings in 1915 and to coincide with the military tradition of ‘stand to’ at dawn – the time often chosen to launch an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons.

Anzac Day services are held in cities and towns across Australia; many also hold marches for current and former serving personnel. Family members and descendants of service personnel are also involved. Marches are usually organised by the Returned & Services League (RSL) of Australia. 

Ceremonies overseas

Internationally, Anzac Day is commemorated in locations where Australians have served, or are currently serving. Australians gather at Gallipoli in Turkey, where Australian and New Zealand forces landed on 25 April 1915 beginning an eight month campaign that cost more than 8,700 Australian and some 2,700 New Zealand lives. 

Australians also attend commemorations at Villers-Bretonneux in France, a town recaptured by Australian and British troops on Anzac Day 1918 during a period of crisis for the Allies on the Western Front. It is now the site of the Australian National Memorial in France.

Adjacent to the Australian National Memorial, the Sir John Monash Centre is set on the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, and tells Australia’s story of the Western Front through a series of interactive media installations and immersive experiences. 

Increasingly, people are making pilgrimages to other significant Australian wartime locations such as Hellfire Pass in Thailand, Isurava in Papua New Guinea, and Sandakan in Malaysia. 

Organise a ceremony

Many Anzac Day ceremonies are based on an established and simple Order of Service. The service can be easily adapted to suit particular groups and there is flexibility in the choice of prayers, readings and poems.

To make organising an event easier, whether an official local ceremony or at home service, DVA have established a free, downloadable Kitbag. The Kitbag includes sample speeches, music and hymns, an ode of Remembrance, commemorative activities for children and more.

Anzac Day posters

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs produces Anzac Day posters every year and also posters commemorating significant wartime themes or anniversaries. The posters reflect the department’s commitment to engage the community with Australia’s wartime history, and to raise awareness of the service and sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women in wars, conflicts and on peace operations. 

FACTS

Casualties  

  • More than 102,000 Australian military personnel have lost their lives in wars and conflicts.   

Specific medals  

  • 101 Australians have received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy (this includes five recipients of the Victoria Cross of Australia – the last being to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean RANR for gallantry on board HMAS Armidale during the Second World War. Sheean was originally awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches, but this was upgraded to the Victoria Cross of Australia on 1 December 2020)   

Commemorations in Australia  

  • Dawn Services  
  • Marches – usually organised by the RSL    

Commemorations overseas  

  • Australian embassies and high commissions around the world conduct their own Anzac Day ceremonies. For more information visit the DFAT website.

DVA-managed or supported commemorations overseas  

  • Gallipoli, Turkey
  • Villers-Bretonneux, France
  • Hellfire Pass, Thailand
  • Bomana War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
  • Sandakan, Malaysia 

Resources 

More information  

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