The 2009 ANZAC day Dawn Service, State war memorial, Kings Park Western Australia (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

19 Wing Comox, HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial co-host Vancouver Island Anzac Day April 21

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 25 April 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 World War I.

The HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial (HAMM), in association with 19 Wing Comox, is once more host to the Vancouver Island Anzac Day on Saturday, April 21 at 12:30 p.m. to commemorate Anzac Day and to provide local Island residents with ties to southern Commonwealth countries a Day of Remembrance.

The free event will be held at HMCS Quadra (at Goose Spit) and requires advanced registration from the museum’s website (alberniproject.org) or at HAMM at 625 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay.

Along with guest speakers that will include Anil Inan, the Consul General of Turkey, there will be musical guests Comox Military Wives Choir. Refreshments will be provided by Comox Valley McDonald’s and the Peppermill Program.

A special feature of this year’s ceremony, the Hedger Medal, will be making its final appearance in Canada before being hand-delivered to New Zealand to be repatriated and handed over to Hedger’s descendants during the National Anzac Day events in Wellington.

Anzac Week at HAMM will include special screenings of the film Gallipoli and other ANZAC documentaries will be held all week in the William Leslie Wing at HAMM.

For more information on participating, corporate sponsoring, or volunteering for this event contact Lewis Bartholomew at 250-897-4611 or email at mrbarth@alberniproject.org. Tickets are available through email prior to April 19.

NOTE: Photo ID at the Quadra gate may be required with registered ticket.

History lesson

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.

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