Spirit of “Mateship” prominent at London ANZAC commemorations   25 Apr 2017

Charlotte Everett

All photos copyright Peter Livingstone Photography. Lead image: HRH The Duke of York (far right), with the Hon Alexander Downer (far left) and Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae (centre) - at London's ANZAC Dawn Service, Hyde Park Corner. 

Themes of mateship and shared identity set the tone as thousands of people attended services in London to mark 102 years since Australians and New Zealanders fought alongside each other for the first time ever in a major conflict.

Although ANZAC Day specifically marks the date of the ill-fated Gallipoli landings in 1915, the greatest loss of Australian and New Zealand lives was actually in 1917, at the Battle of Passchendaele – and the centennial year of the ANZACs’ darkest day was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

London marked the occasion with its usual trifecta of services – and it was indeed here in London, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, that ANZAC Day was commemorated for the very first time in 1916.

Despite a return to freezing pre-dawn temperatures – and the fact that many attendees had a full working day ahead of them – 1,800 people took to night buses and taxis to turn out at Hyde Park Corner for the annual Dawn Service at 5am, this year hosted at the Australian War Memorial. Lieutenant Colonel Brendan Hogan of the Australian Defence Staff London, summarised the ANZAC spirit in his introductory address:

“Building a reputation for courage, mateship, and honour – they forged the foundation of our national identities, and bonded our two nations forever. Their conduct in the face of such adversity set the standard for future generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen and women – and for Australians and New Zealanders all.

“ANZAC Day is not about the glorification of war – its focus is not the celebration of victories, or the condemnation of failures. It is a humble acknowledgement of the self-sacrifice of those who have served our countries during times of crisis and conflict. ANZAC Day is a service that has been paid for in bare blood, and celebrated in our freedom.”

Bishop Tom Frame also touched on the meaning of ANZAC in his Prayer of Remembrance:

“While we remember the mateship, agony, courage and compassion of war service; save us from the pride and the hubris that might ever lead us to think war is anything other than a human tragedy.”

His Royal Highness The Duke of York – who fought in the Falklands – was in attendance at both the Dawn Service and later at the Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. He laid wreaths at both the Australian and New Zealand War Memorials at Hyde Park Corner; wreaths were also laid by representatives of the Australian, New Zealand, and British governments, as well as the armed forces, and on behalf of the people of all three countries.

The Dawn Service concluded with a moving performance at the New Zealand Memorial by Ngati Ranana, London Maori Club.

Later in the morning a short service also took place at the Cenotaph on Whitehall. Here, the first wreaths were laid by the High Commissioners for Australia and New Zealand – the Hon Alexander Downer, and Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae – and on behalf of the British government, by Michael Fallon and Boris Johnson. Waltzing Matilda played by the Irish Guard Band concluded the service as the parade marched off.

The final official service of the day was the 101st Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving to mark ANZAC Day at Westminster Abbey. The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, remarked on the importance of this particular service in the Abbey’s history and busy calendar. The Dean also reflected: “As the Union Flag and the flags of Australia and New Zealand are presented at the High Altar with the flag of Turkey in a sign of the reconciliation of old enemies, let us renew our commitment to the causes of justice and peace throughout the world”.

London’s ANZAC commemorations conclude this evening, with a reception hosted by the New Zealand Society UK in the Penthouse of the New Zealand High Commission.


About the reporter:

Charlotte Everett has been contributing to NZNewsUK as a columnist and journalist since 2011, and currently serves as London Editor – a post she has held since mid-2013. She has been based in London since mid-2007 and is an active member of London’s Kiwi community, currently holding the position of Vice President for the NZ Society UK. She has a broad writing portfolio, including music/entertainment, theatre reviews, travel, rugby, Kiwi success, vegan food, and WW100/ANZAC. She is also an experienced freelance tour guide, and leads city walks across London and Oxford several times a week. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook. 

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