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ANZAC Day March, 2015

The spirit of the ANZACs began in the trenches of WWI.  The day to acknowledge, recognise and show our thanks to the ANZACs for their sacrifice and contribution is April 25.  It was on that date one hundred years ago Australian and New Zealand troops, led by the British, made the fateful landing at Gallipoli.

Still marching in time after all these years

Still marching in time after all these years

Drew’s Great-Uncle Keith was sent to Turkey and landed not at Gallipoli but one of three landing locations.  Almost 750 Australian men died on the first day of landing at Gallipoli.  Keith, sent to a different location, managed to survive however, injured from machine gun fire and with shrapnel through many parts of his body, he lay on the rocky shore pretending to be dead while Turks picked over the bodies of the allied soldiers stealing watches, signet rings and other items of value.

George Street

George Street

The assault on Gallipoli lasted eight and a half months and ultimately failed.  By the time of the retreat over a third of those sent to fight were casualties.  Almost 9,000 Australian men were killed which was an enormous loss for a young country with a relatively small population.  One Australian soldier said, ‘It was the absurd sacrifice of young men by old men sitting in stuffed chairs in London’.

Nurses being led on by Girl Guides

Former Nurses being led on by Girl Guides

Against the odds, Uncle Keith survived WWI but came home with permanent injuries.

Entering Martin Place

Entering Martin Place

ANZAC Day 2015 marked the 100th Anniversary of that fateful landing at Gallipoli.  As a family, we went to Martin Place to be part of thousands lining the streets to honour those in the march.  The march not only acknowledged the contribution and sacrifice of those who were called to duty in WWI, but all those who have served in both times of conflict and in humanitarian duties.

Entertainers who performed for the troops

Entertainers who performed for the troops

I have previously written about my grandfather’s contribution and sacrifice to WWII with being a pilot flying over Germany where he was eventually shot-down over Belgium, captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp.

My Grandfather before the War

My Grandfather before the War



Dogs have served in war times too.

Dogs have served in war times too.

When my grandfather returned to New Zealand he never bothered to collect his medals.  Over the past year and through a lengthy, time-consuming and full-of-red-tape procedure, my father has managed to acquire his father’s medals.  He received them a few weeks ago, just in time for ANZAC Day.

Marching Band

Marching Band

War-time entertainers getting ready to march.

War-time entertainers getting ready to march.

My father marched in his father’s place in Bomber Command.  We, along with thousands of others, lined the streets on what was, (by sharp contrast from the cyclone a few days earlier), a beautifully warm and sunny day.

Rounding the corner at Martin Place

Rounding the corner at Martin Place

We watched the procession from start to finish and there was a wonderful spirit amongst the bystanders of respect, admiration and gratitude.  The veterans proudly marched and it was wonderful to see how even with the passing of time, the learned skill of marching was never to be forgotten.

My father in the navy suit

My father wearing a navy suit

All those marching had dressed up in what looked like their ‘Sunday best’ with polished shoes, pressed shirts and glistening medals.  What a great occasion for them.

Marching along George Street

Marching along George Street

My father was one of the last to march.   He took his role very seriously and honoured his father who sadly never got to wear his own medals.

Poppa with two of his grandsons

Poppa with two of his grandsons

After the parade we caught up and had a restful and quiet lunch in a restaurant.  As we walked back to where we had parked the car, it was lovely to pass by so many people wearing their own or their father’s medals and others with poppies or sprigs of rosemary or both.

Grandpa Selwyn's medals

Grandpa Selwyn’s medals

Now about the weather…The good weather didn’t last and shortly after we arrived home there was a hailstorm.  I have never before experienced a cyclone and a hailstorm in the same week.  This image was taken by my brother-in-law who is staying in the Blue Mountains.  He went to the shops and became caught up in ‘Iceland’.

A wee bit of hail

A wee bit of hail


  1. What a lovely story and how wonderful that your father now has these wonderful medals… Thanks so much for sharing your story! Liz xx

  2. I think Australians remember the war much more vividly and personally than we do in America. Blogs I follow, like yours, reflect this, as did some of the people we met when we visited there. I have no idea whether this is generally the case (or a random observation). And I have no idea why it might be so.

    I enjoyed your memoirs and the photos of the march.

  3. Wow, I got a bit goosebumpy on this post. I went to the dawn service in Mooloolaba on Saturday. It was the first time I’d ever been and I wasn’t prepared for 2/3 of the town to be there with me. I was gobsmacked by the attendance.

    I should have known because as we pulled out of our garage at 4;15am, so did two of our next door neighbours and all three of us attended different services.

    Wonderful post and your father would have felt honoured to wear his father’s medals.

  4. How lovely for your father to be able to march and have his family looking on – and glad you had good weather for the day – it wasn’t too bad down in victoria – I expected colder weather so was relieved and then we had the rain pounding later that day

  5. Thanks for this very insightful post. I learn something new every time I read something written about ANZAC Day. I didn’t know that the assault on Gallipoli lasted eight and a half months. Hard to imagine the horror. So many in my family were involved in wars over the years – some returned and some never came back. My grandfather was involved in WW1 in France, injured, patched up and returned for more fightiing for four long years. I loved him to bits, in spite of most of his life sitting in his green overstuffed chair rolling his cigarettes and saying very little, just smiling. Thanks for your memoirs.

  6. Thank you for sharing your family stories. Young men are still sacrificed to the politics of the old.

  7. What a moving event. I am so glad that your father was able to secure his father’s medals and march in the parade. These men and women are so deserving of thanks. What a wonderful celebration.

    As for the hail, wow. I expect many vehicles were damaged, unless the hailstones were not large enough to dent.

  8. Danielle says:

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes, what a lovely tribute to the men and women who served in the wars and especially your grandfather, that must have meant a lot to your family to see your father marching with his father’s medals. Thanks for sharing Charlie.

  9. Isn’t Anzac day such a wonderful, moving tribute to those that fought for our country and way of life Charlie. Wonderful that you got your grandfathers medals and could honour him by marching xo

  10. Thanks for the ANZAC Day history lesson. How happy you and your family must be that your father managed to acquire your grandfather’s medals and you could all be there to view your father marching proudly wearing his father’s medal.

  11. What a great post Charlie that I can tell how proud you are of not only Drew’s Great-Uncle but of all the ANZACS living or who died that day!

  12. Such a touching tribute, Charlie. Thank you for sharing xox

  13. Tremendous pride for you and yours and mine for mine . . . . thank God the communal feeling is rising year by year . . . so glad you got the well earned medals back for the family . . . I clap the wonderful ‘oldies’ still coming out and the nurses and the dogs from whom superhuman tasks were expected . . . and the current army personnel who understand the sequence of a very proud nation . . . thank you Charlie . . .

    • Thanks so much, Eha. I love the wonderful ‘oldies’ and think it must be one of the best days of the year for them. So lovely to see the huge crowds coming out to honour them.

  14. Lovely post Charlie – we had record numbers turning out at services here in NZ. Must say I am rather sick of those who are trying to put WW1 and WW2 into today’s context and seem to have no idea that we both young countries with strong ties to Britain – oh well, there are plenty of others who seem to understand.

  15. That’s beautiful, Charlie. I am glad you are able to experience ANZAC like that.
    Canberra had around 120 thousand attend the dawn service, it was nice to see Aussies being respectful and not treating the day like an excuse to let loose and drink.

  16. No wonder this day is so special to you and your family. Such a good way to remember the sacrifice of so many.

  17. It must have been wonderful to watch your Dad walking wearing his fathers medals – emotional too. It’s brilliant (and important) that it’s becoming more popular amongst the younger generation too.

  18. That weather! I’ve never seen hail like that. It’s funny because I often think our climates are so similar, and here we are in a drought. Your photos remind me that we never know. A year from now I could be talking about too much rain! I am so glad you shared about ANZAC day, Charlie. I have developed an extreme interest in World War 1, in particular because it is the 100th anniversary and I realize that I just don’t know that much about it. I think the stories that are passed down through the generations are so important, and in that one photo I see the way that Alfie is looking at his grandfather’s (great-grandfather’s) medals. I’m sure he was absorbing a lot of what this special day represents. You have some very special family histories to protect, Charlie, and I’m so glad you shared some of them with us. I think to have this day remembered with such a strong community gathering is really very impressive. ox

  19. What a fantastic day, your family history must have made it extra special – Great photos!

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. What a wonderful tribute to your family members who served in such a difficult and costly war. I’m so glad your father could collect his father’s medals too. It sounds like a special ANZAC Day.

    As for the weather – crazy!!

  21. I’m so glad you were able to celebrate the heroes in your family! And I’m delighted that your dad could track down his father’s medals. Hope you’ve had the last of the nasty weather for a while!!! xo

  22. Yes luckily the weather behaved for the first part of the day. You must have been so proud to see your dad march! And great that he got the medals too for your grandfather.

  23. Beautiful read Charlie!
    Have an awesome day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  24. Wow that’s a lot of hail!
    I can’t believe how much Archie looks like your grandfather. What an honour for your father to be able to wear the medals and a tribute to your grandfather.

  25. A very thoughtful and heartfelt post! I am delighted to hear that your father was able to obtain your grandfathers medals and sorry for all of those that lost their lives and were injured during the war. I am sorry to hear about this strange weather. Very odd indeed. Take Care, BAM

  26. I attended my first ANZAC Day march in Melbourne last weekend. The weather was horrendous, cold and rainy. But that did not seem to deter the crowds that turned out in force on this centenary of WW1. Our students marched with the Malaya & Borneo Veterans and it was an honour to have lunch with the Vets afterwards.
    What awful weather you have been having. My goodness!

  27. You’ve capture the march so well Charlie and how wonderful that your Dad was able to get the medals. Isn’t it wonderful how respectful our country still is remembering these brave men and women who went into the great unknown to serve their country. I was lucky enough to travel to an area on the French/Belgian boarder a few years ago and walk on the battle fields that my great grandfather had fought on. Humbling indeed. We were lucky he made it home unlike so many others. Lest we forget.

  28. What a wonderful story!

  29. So glad your dad got to get those medals and walk in place!

    And woa- looks like the nasty winter we had is heading y’alls way!

  30. Great proud moment and he looks so well

  31. God Bless the brave men like your grandfather and Uncle Keith <3 I am without words to express my gratitude and appreciation…Poignant words about the older men in stuffed chairs who sent lads to war <3 Glad your dad could honor your grandfather in the parade <3

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