• Continuing centre for commemoration

    When Australia’s official war correspondent Charles Bean envisioned the Australian War Memorial, he pictured a place that would not only hold records and relics of war, but one that would also commemorate the Australians who lost their lives fighting for their country “on some hill-top still, beautiful, gleaming white and silent”.

    Before the Memorial opened in 1941, other locations around Canberra became home to military commemoration. However, over the years, the Memorial’s role as a as a focal point for commemoration has steadily grown. This is reflected in the ever-increasing numbers attending the Anzac Day Dawn Service and the national ceremonies on Anzac and Remembrance Days. Today Bean’s vision remains as strong as ever.

    Thanksgiving service in celebration of Victory in Europe held on the steps of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 9 May 1945 Thanksgiving service in celebration of Victory in Europe held on the steps of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 9 May 1945 ART25669

    Sketches for 2008 Dawn Service Commission

    2008 Dawn Service 2008 Dawn Service ART93385

    Traditionally the Dawn Service marks the start of Anzac Day as a reminder of the dawn landing on Gallipoli. In the past it was a simple service attended exclusively by veterans, but it has become one of the most significant commemorative ceremonies in Australia, popular with young people and families. In 2013, 30,000 people attended the service at the Memorial.

    In 2008, painter Kristin Headlam attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Memorial. These sketches capture the unique atmosphere of the chilly Canberra autumn morning, with families and children rugged up against the cold and illuminated by candlelight.

    The funeral procession on Anzac Parade. The funeral procession on Anzac Parade. PAIU1993/199.23

    To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the body of an unknown Australian soldier was recovered from Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneux in France and transported to Australia. He was interred in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993 to represent all Australians who have been killed in war. Here the funeral procession is moving up Anzac Parade, past a guard of honour formed by representatives of Ex-Service Unit Associations.

    Inside the Hall of Memory looking down on the Tomb of the Unkown Australian Soldier. Inside the Hall of Memory looking down on the Tomb of the Unkown Australian Soldier. PAIU1993/260.16

    The Unknown Australian Soldier was buried with a bayonet and a sprig of wattle in a Tasmanian blackwood coffin, and soil from the Pozières battlefield was scattered in his tomb.