Anzac Day Centenary Commemoration (2015)
Between 2014 and 2018 Australia is commemorating 100 years since our nation’s involvement in the First World War. All levels of government are actively supporting the commemorations, with the Australian Federal Government, under the slogan, ‘’The Spirit Lives 2014-2018’’, leading the Australian response. Numerous projects have been initiated to highlight aspects of the centenary commemoration, many of which have been financed by government grants. Australians have embraced the centenary commemorations by wholeheartedly supporting the numerous events that have been planned.
Anzac Day attendees using the newly-built pathway to access the Soldiers’ Memorial monument.
[Photograph by Ruth Sapsford]
On Anzac Day 2015 Australians and New Zealanders marked the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli when four infantry battalions of the 3rd Brigade, First Australian Division landed at dawn on 25 April 1915. The 11th Battalion, from Western Australia, came ashore not at Anzac Cove, but on the beach beneath the slopes leading down from Ari Burnu Point and Plugge’s Plateau.
According to The Courier-Mail (23 April 2015), more than 70 events were planned for Anzac Day in the greater Brisbane area alone. In Brisbane, it was later reported by various media sources that record crowds turned out to observe the Anzac centenary. The Federal Government’s website expresses the sentiment as follows:
Gallipoli has special significance to many Australians. For the families of those men who fought at Gallipoli, and in the many other battles and campaigns of the First World War, the centenary commemorations are particularly poignant.
In Toowong, the commemoration of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing was organised by the Toowong RSL Sub-branch, and held at Toowong Memorial Park. Anzac Day has been celebrated in the park since the Soldiers’ Memorial monument, erected on the summit of the hill in the park, was unveiled by the governor, Sir Matthew Nathan, on 2 July 1922. Dedicated to those who had enlisted from the Toowong area, the Memorial was financed by the citizens of Toowong, who gave generously to a public fundraising campaign chaired by Sir Alfred S. Cowley OBE, a former state speaker of the Queensland parliament. At the time, the hill gave extensive views across to Mt Coot-tha, around the surrounding district, and over to the eastern side of the Brisbane River.
The Soldiers’ Memorial illuminated by flood lights recently installed by the Brisbane City Council.
[Photograph provided by Cr Peter Matic.]
In recent years Toowong’s Anzac Day service started after dawn. In 2013, for example, the service commenced at 5.20am. Other years have been even later, at 6.00am or sometimes 6.30am. However, for the centenary year, the Toowong RSL Sub-branch decided that a dawn service should be held, commencing at 4.30am.
This was a return to the tradition of dawn services that the Toowong RSL sub-branch used to hold in times past. Also, there was a time when the dawn service had been preceded by a parade ending at Toowong Memorial Park. These traditions were set aside when their advanced years and increasing infirmity caught up with the WWI veterans, and prevented them from participating in the parade. Climbing the hill also proved beyond their capabilities. Therefore, the Toowong RSL Sub-branch erected a second smaller memorial just inside the repositioned gates of Toowong Memorial Park, and brought forward the starting time for the service to accommodate the aging ‘Digger’ population.
In 2014, the Brisbane City Council (BCC) restored both the Soldiers’ Memorial and the RSL’s Memorial to their original condition. In response to a TDHS submission, the BCC also constructed a pathway to the crest of the ridge to enable easier access to the Soldiers’ Memorial. The late Mr Percy Hanlon, a TDHS foundation management committee member, had spent many years prior to his death unsuccessfully campaigning for such a pathway, and the TDHS applied for it in his memory. The Society is pleased that the pathway that Mr Hanlon had campaigned for has now been built. Mrs Ruth Sapsford, who attended the Dawn Service as the TDHS’s representative, reports that a constant stream of people could be seen in the pre-dawn light making their way up to the pathway to the hill’s summit.
Floodlighting has also been installed at the base of the Soldiers’ Memorial and directed upwards to illuminate the column in the pre-dawn light. Cr Peter Matic of the Toowong Ward Office said he was delighted with the Council’s preparation of the park, and was especially thrilled by the impact of the lighting, describing the spectacle as ‘magnificent’.
This year the crowd attending the ceremony exceeded all expectations, and was estimated at over 2,000 people. The Brizwest Concert Band and the Church of Latter Day Saints choir performed the Australian and New Zealand anthems. Numerous wreaths were placed at the foot of the Soldiers’ Memorial, including one laid on behalf of the TDHS by Mrs Ruth Sapsford. On the conclusion of the service, all those who attended were invited to participate in a Gunfire Breakfast held in the park and hosted by Wests Rugby Union Club. A family day arranged by Wests then followed from 11am, and included a derby match between Wests Bulldogs and the Queensland University, followed by entertainment.
The Soldiers’ Memorial bathed
in the soft dawn light and surrounded by wreaths
Wreath laid at Soldiers’ Memorial by
the Toowong and District Historical Society
A BCC CityCat featuring the slogan ‘’Brisbane Remembers its Anzacs ‘’
travels downstream along the Toowong Reach of the Brisbane River.
The Soldiers’ Memorial bathed in the warmth of the morning sun on Anzac Day.
Wreaths laid at the base of the Soldiers’ Memorial
[All of the above photographs provided by Ruth Sapsford.]
At the Ithaca War Memorial, Paddington, Dr Steven Miles MP, Minister for the Environment and the State Member for Mt Coot-tha, hosted Paddington’s Anzac Day’s Citizens’ Morning Service, which started at 7.30am. Again, a huge crowd attended. A highlight was the participation of children from local organisations and schools in the proceedings. Before the service commenced, the Bardon State School choir performed on the footpath adjacent to the park until the arrival of the Anzac Day parade. Marching in the parade to the accompaniment of the Boys’ Brigade Band were schoolchildren from Red Hill State School, local scouts and girl guide troops, and the Enoggera Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades units. After the arrival of the parade, Dr Miles awaited its formal dismissal before commencing the Anzac Day Service. Participants who gathered around the base of the Memorial were bathed in delicately dappled morning light which filtered through the canopies of the park’s fig trees and added a tranquil quality to the solemnity of the occasion.
Mrs Leigh Chamberlain, who represented the TDHS, read the Act of Remembrance. Her reading was followed by Dr Miles inviting attendees to join in the singing of the hymn, ‘Abide with Me’. After the playing of the Last Post and Reveille, the service concluded with the laying of wreaths by representatives of local organisations and personal tributes laid by individuals. Among the wreaths were those laid by several local politicians, including Dr Miles and Cr Peter Matic, of the BCC’s Toowong Ward.
Afterwards, people lingered to look at the wreaths and to greet friends, thus giving the occasion a sense of community. Gradually the crowd dispersed, leaving the Ithaca War Memorial to sit peacefully in the morning sun, surrounded by the numerous floral tributes laid reverently at its base.
The Bardon State School Choir performing
at the Ithaca War Memorial.
The Anzac Day Parade being dismissed.
Music was provided by the Boys’ Brigade Band
The Guard of Honour at the Ithaca War Memorial.
The flag at half-mast while the packed crowd
listens to the audio operator( front left)
playing The Last Post and Reveille.
[All of the above photographs provided by Leigh Chamberlain.]
Written by Leigh Chamberlain