Wednesday 23 April 2008 by Pen Roberts. 2 comments

For all Australians, Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance and commemoration. Looking back to the landing at Gallipoli at dawn on 25th April 1915, what is extraordinary is the speed with which that day became known as Anzac Day in Australia. The event was so significant that within less than a year the Returned Services Association of New South Wales was raising funds for an Anzac Day Memorial, and the Queensland Department of Public Instruction had already published a text for students entitled ‘Anzac Day'.

Returned Services Association of New South Wales brochure (940.4 0994 A637 1916) and the Queensland ‘Anzac Day’ textbook (940.394 S372)

In 1916 commemorative services were held across the Commonwealth. In London, that day ‘Being the First Anniversary of the Landing at Gallipoli' as it was referred to in England, was commemorated with a memorial service held at Westminster Abbey. It was attended by King George V, Queen Mary, and General Sir (later Field Marshal Lord) William Birdwood, commander of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli.

Paper napkin souvenir printed on the occasion of the service at Westminster Abbey (Souvenirs 1: 16/1/1)

A souvenir paper napkin lists the itinerary for the day which included a march by the Australian and New Zealand troops, and the commemorative service followed by lunch at the Hotel Cecil. Mr Billy Hughes was on hand to present medals later that day at His Majesty's Theatre.

Westminster Abbey commemoration service brochure (Souvenirs 13/2/2)

Australian 1st Division troops march through the London streets on the anniversary of the first Anzac Day. Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament can be seen in the left background (P03330.001)

By April 1916, Australian troops were already fighting in the trenches on the Western Front, and were to remain there for at least another gruelling two years.


Jessie Webb

Thanks for sharing these, Pen. The photos of the souveniers are wonderful! That napkin is gorgeous!

Bonita Trenwith

John Wallace Geange was at the service. The King stopped and shook his had and then invited him to tea, John was a member of my family. I would love to know more and also a copy of the sourveniers as a rememberance. John was shot 7 times and had a shattered spine and 2 bullets in his chest and bullets elsewhere after serving at Gallipoli and Hill 60. He was part of the Wellington Mounted Rifles