The Dawn Service
The Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in an operational routine which is still practiced by the Australian Army today.
The half-light of dawn plays tricks with soldier’s eyes and, from the earliest times, the half-hour or so before dawn, with all its grey, misty shadows, became a favoured time for mounting an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken before dawn, so as the first dull light crept across the battlefield they were alert and manning their weapons. This was, and still is, known as ‘stand-to’ and is repeated at sunset.
After World War 1, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli at 4:29am on 25th April 1915, a dawn stand-to or dawn ceremony became a common form of Anzac Day remembrance during the 1920’s.
They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
The Last Post
The Last Post historically has been used to signify the end of the day. It is played during commemorative ceremonies to serve as a tribute to the dead.
One (or two) minutes silence is held to reflect on the significance of the day and as a sign of respect.
Reveille and Rouse
In major ceremonies, the Last Post is normally followed by Rouse except at the Dawn Service when Reveille is played. Historically, Reveille woke the soldier at dawn. While Reveille is played as the first call of the day, Rouse may be used at any time.
The Anzac tradition was forged on 25 April 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
It marked the start of a campaign which lasted eight months and resulted in some 25,000 Australian casualties, including 8,700 who were killed or died of wounds or disease. The bravery and spirit of those who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula shaped a legend, and so the ‘Anzac’ became a part of the Australian and New Zealand lexicon.
In 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand, England and by troops in Egypt. That year, 25 April was named ‘Anzac Day’.
Over the ensuing decades, returned Australian servicemen and women from conflicts such as Malaya, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq as well as peacekeepers and Veterans from allied countries now march proudly in the parades.
A time to reflect with pride and gratitude
Over ninety years ago, our brave young soldiers rushed ashore at Gallipoli, unaware that they would come to symbolise the struggle of a hopeful nation starting to make its way in the world.
The legacy of Anzac lies at the spiritual heart of this great nation – an eternal possession we should value and cherish always. It embodies the values of courage, determination and mateship, characteristics which define us all as Australians.
At different times throughout the year, Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other significant military history anniversaries, we remember the lives lost and pay tribute to those Australians who have proudly served our country.
We encourage all Australians to understand the Anzac story and to ensure that it is passed to future generations.
"ANZAC stood and still stands for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat." - C.E.W. Bean, Australian Military historian at Gallipoli.