Commemorative Days


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“Today we do not glorify war, we hope for peace. Today we honour the 102,866 who have lost their lives in the service of our country”
LCDR Dianna Best – Royal Australian Navy

Thank you to the Shepparton  News, and in particular photographer Megan Fisher, for allowing us to share some of their images captured on this special day.

A video has been made showcasing the events of the day. It can be viewed HERE and features Juliana de Quilettes performing I Was Only 19.

The Anzac tradition—the ideals of courage, endurance and mateship that are still relevant today—was established on 25 April 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

It was the start of a campaign that lasted eight months and resulted in some 25,000 Australian casualties, including 8,700 who were killed or died of wounds or disease.

The men who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula created a legend, adding the word ‘ANZAC’ to our vocabulary and creating the notion of the ANZAC spirit.

In 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand and England and by troops in Egypt. That year, 25 April was officially named ‘ANZAC Day’ by the Acting Prime Minister, George Pearce.

By the 1920s, Anzac Day ceremonies were held throughout Australia. All States had designated Anzac Day as a public holiday. In the 1940s, Second World War veterans joined parades around the country. In the ensuing decades, returned servicemen and women from the conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Indonesia, Vietnam and Iraq, veterans from allied countries and peacekeepers joined the parades.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the number of people attending the ceremonies fell as Australians questioned the relevance of Anzac Day. However, in the 1990s there was a resurgence of interest in Anzac Day, with attendances, particularly by young people, increasing across Australia and with many making the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli Peninsula to attend the Dawn Service.

Dawn Service

The Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in an operational routine which is still observed by the Australian Army today.

The half-light of dawn plays tricks with soldiers’ eyes and from the earliest times the half-hour or so before dawn, with all its grey, misty shadows, became one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were therefore woken up in the dark, before dawn, so that by the time the first dull grey light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert and manning their weapons. This was, and still is, known as “Stand-to”. It was also repeated at sunset.

After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, a dawn stand-to or dawn ceremony became a common form of Anzac Day remembrance during the 1920s; the first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Dawn services were originally very simple and followed the operational ritual; in many cases they were restricted to veterans only.

The daytime ceremony was for families and other well-wishers, the dawn service was for old soldiers to remember and reflect among the comrades with whom they shared a special bond. Before dawn the gathered veterans would be ordered to “stand to” and two minutes of silence would follow. At the end of this time a lone bugler would play the “Last Post” and then concluded the service with “Reveille”.

In more recent times families and young people have been encouraged to take part in dawn services, and services in Australian capital cities have seen some of the largest turnouts ever. Reflecting this change, the ceremonies have become more elaborate, incorporating hymns, readings, pipers and rifle volleys. Others, though, have retained the simple format of the dawn stand-to, familiar to so many soldiers.

Remembrance Day – 2023

Pausing to remember

Heads bowed, 200 people paused for a minute’s silence at Shepparton cenotaph to remember those lost in battle.

On the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, veterans and community members gathered at Shepparton’s Remembrance Day service.

Stan Whitford spoke at the service, detailing the history of Remembrance Day and his connection to the day.

“To my mind, Remembrance Day is one of the most significant community events in the calendar. From the very beginning,” Mr Whitford said.

“It was the families, schools, factories, towns and cities that funded and erected the hundreds of memorials we see on our travel across our country and beyond. “It is in these communities that people like you and I gather every year to remember the reasons why we have over 103,000 soldiers names listed in the Roll of Honour in Canberra.”

Story by Djembe Archibald, Shepparton News
Photos by Megan Fisher, Shepparton News

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