Anzac Day, each April 25, thousands of Australians and New Zealanders stand shoulder-to-shoulder to mark the brutal WWI campaign when about 59,000 soldiers landed under heavy fire on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. Some 11,430 young Antipodean men, most volunteers heeding duty’s call and eager for excitement and adventure, met their deaths at Anzac Cove.
The campaign was part of a plan by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies, so it’s fitting that Britain’s capital hosts a series of commemorative events.
These ensure the courage, the sacrifice and the mateship displayed by all who have served and died in wars, conflicts and peace-keeping missions, is never forgotten.
Here’s how you can pay your respects this year in London.
The annual Anzac Challenge is one huge sporting day out for London’s Australasian community.
Feature matches include the AFL Anzac Cup; the Aotearoa Challenge Shield, which pits the London New Zealand RFC against the London Maori Wanderers Invitation XV side; and the Anzac Shield, involving the London New Zealand RFC and Wasps FC.
Australians and New Zealanders will also clash in rugby league, rugby union, touch rugby, tag rugby and netball throughout the day.
Music from Jayson Norris, Brooke Supple, Town Hall Steps, Melic and Ian Munro will keep the mood golden.
» London Wasps, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground, Twyford Avenue, W3 9QA
Tube: Acton Town, Ealing Common, West Acton
Anzac Day Dawn service
Rub your sleepy eyes and head to the Australian war memorial for a moving 5am dawn service. A wreath-laying will follow at the New Zealand memorial. Expect a feeling of solidarity as The Last Post sounds over the capital.
» Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner
Tube: Hyde Park Corner
Apr 25, 5am-5.45am
Current and ex-service men and women will march in this leg of the day’s proceedings, where the high commissioners from Australia and New Zealand will lay the first wreaths.
The service will open with a requiem read by Chaplain Garry Lock. Attendees are recommended to arrive by 7.30am and to carry photo ID for security checks.
» The Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2
Apr 25, 8am
Anzac Day Commemorative service
The culmination of the day’s official events is a commemorative service at Westminster Abbey.
This event is free, although you will need to order tickets (a limit of four per application). You can do this through the Australian or New Zealand High Commissions, or by emailing email@example.com. Tickets go fast; get in early.
» Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PA
Apr 25, 9am
The Gallipoli Association, based in London, is hosting a short servic and wreath-laying ceremony at the Gallipoli memorial in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
» Saint Paul’s Church Yard, EC4M 8AD
Tube: St Paul’s
Apr 25, 11.15am
– Rebecca Kent