Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”
Usually observed on April 25 each year, Anzac Day was originally established to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.
Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga, and previously also as a national holiday in Papua New Guinea and Samoa. It is also observed in some local communities of Newfoundland.
The HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial at the Comox Centre Mall in Comox will be host to the North Vancouver Island’s observance of Anzac Day on Sunday, April 24 at 12:30 p.m. to commemorate the centennial of the Anzac and to provide local Island residents with ties to southern Commonwealth countries a day of Remembrance.
The public is encouraged and welcome to loan the museum items of uniforms, metals, photos and more from their family’s time in the New Zealand or Australian Forces for a special exhibit to be unveiled at the event. Please contact the museum director if you would like to participate.
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on April 25, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk). What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied casualties included 21,255 from the United Kingdom, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, 1,358 from British India and 40 from Newfoundland.
News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home, and April 25 quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war, a day of remembrance which continues this tradition to the present era.
Though the Gallipoli campaign failed to achieve its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an “Anzac legend” became an important part of the national identity in both countries. Though very controversial at times, Anzac Day has shaped the way their citizens have viewed both their past and their understanding of the present.
North Vancouver Island Anzac Day will take place Sunday, April 24 beginning at 12:30 p.m. at HAMM in the Comox Centre Mall. There will be musicians from New Zealand and Canada with a special presentation to the aboriginal Canadians as part of the entire event. At 2:30 p.m. there will be a special screening of the film Gallipoli in the museum’s theatre.
For more information on participating and volunteering for this event, contact Lewis Bartholomew at 250-339-4322 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org