Australians around the world pause on Anzac Day

Thousands gathered in Australia and around the world to commemorate Anzac Day and pay tribute to those who have served this nation in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

This year marked the return of international Anzac Day commemorations for the first time since 2019, as travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic eased.

Anzac Day services have been held in Australia since 1916, with the day formally gazetted as a day of commemoration in every state during the 1920s. Anzac Day pilgrimages to places of significance to Australians who have served is also a long-held tradition, with services held at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, as early as 1923.

In Canberra, more than 18,000 gathered at the Australian War Memorial for the Dawn Service, which was attended by the Governor-General His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd). The Governor-General also attended the Veterans’ March, before delivering the Anzac Day National Address.

‘On this Anzac Day, my wife and I are thinking of all the courageous troops who endured so much in 1915 on the beaches and in the rugged hills of the Gallipoli Peninsula,’ said the Governor-General.

‘As we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of the armed services personnel of Australia and New Zealand in two World Wars, and in other conflicts and peacekeeping operations, our thoughts will also be with those communities around the world who are being torn apart by violence and conflict, and those who are fighting for freedom in the face of oppression.’

Anzac Day was honoured internationally with services around the world, from Hellfire Pass in Thailand to Sandakan in Malaysia, Bomana in Papua New Guinea as well as France, Turkey, England and many other places.

The Dawn Service at Gallipoli recommenced this year, with locals welcoming back their Australian and New Zealand friends with open arms. This year the service began with the Māori Call to Gathering, followed by the playing of the didgeridoo. The Call to Remembrance was delivered by Major General John Boswell DSD, Chief of the New Zealand Army. The Commemorative Address was delivered by the Australian Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency Mr Miles Armitage.

Later in the morning, Australians gathered for the Lone Pine Service, honouring the Australians who served in the Battle of Lone Pine in August 1915, and Australians who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

In France, the small towns of Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt were once again adorned with Australian flags to welcome those returning for the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux and the afternoon service at the Digger Memorial at Bullecourt.

In the darkness before the Dawn Service, Australians and French locals made their way through the  Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery to the Australian National Memorial for the Dawn Service. The Call to Remembrance was delivered by Vice Admiral David Johnston AO RAN, Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force, while the Commemorative Address was delivered by the Australian Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird PSM.

In the afternoon, hundreds gathered at the Digger Memorial in Bullecourt to remember and honour the Australians who defended the town in 1917 and the many who lost their lives in the region. A unique feature of the Digger Service is the participation of Australian and local children as part of the service. Children recited the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ in French and English during the service and the children of Bullecourt laid flowers as part of the official wreath-laying.

The Dawn Services in Canberra, Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux were televised live by the ABC, and are all available to view on ABC iview. The Many Days of Anzac documentary, which tells the story of Australian commemoration of Anzac Day since 1916, is also available to watch on iview.

Two sailors and two soldiers stand with guns pointing down

Dawn Service at Gallipoli