If you haven’t been in Australia or New Zealand on the 25th April you are probably unaware of the significance of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day. It marks the start of the first significant military action undertaken by the combined force in WWI. Troops were landed on the beaches at Gallipoli on the 25th April 2015 with the aim of crossing the hills to the east and taking control of the Dardanelles, thus opening a route for the Allies to the Black Sea. The ensuing battles with the Turkish army lasted until the end of the year, when the Allied forces abandoned the campaign but only after terrible losses on both sides.
Nowadays ANZAC Day is commemorated here much like Armistice Day is remembered each year in the UK. In towns and cities across the country there are solemn dawn services, and much like the UK, each year sees a continuing desire to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.
With Covid-19 restrictions still firmly in place, all services and gatherings have been banned this year, but tv and on-line programmes have done much to fill the gap. We also normally buy and wear poppies on ANZAC Day but, of course, this year this has not been possible. In true Kiwi spirit many letter boxes and windows are displaying a range of home made poppies, the most effective, perhaps, being those cut out from a certain supermarket’s bright red re-useable shopping bags. In order for the public to pay their respects we were encouraged to stand outside at 06.00 this morning. It was heartening to see many of the neighbours out at such an early hour as the sky started to lighten with the sunrise and the haunting notes of a distant Last Post brought a lump to the throat.