Timeline: Origins of the Anzac tradition

A large crowd in the Strand, London on the first official Anzac Day in April 1916. (Getty Images)

On the first official Anzac Day in 1916, soldiers marked the occasion with a sports day in the Australian war camp in Egypt. See how Anzac Day traditions have evolved over time.

1914 – Beginning of the First World War.

1915 – Australian and New Zealand soldiers form part of the allied expedition to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. These soldiers become known as Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). On April 25, the Anzacs land on Gallipoli – the start of a failed eight-month campaign that would see more than 8,000 Australian soldiers killed.

1916 - April 25 is officially named Anzac Day. The occasion is marked with services in Australia, a march through London and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt. For the remaining years of the war, Anzac Day was used as an occasion for patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns, and parades of serving members of the AIF were held in most cities. 

1920s – Anzac Day is established as a national day of commemoration for the more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War.

1927 – Every Australian state observes some form of public holiday on Anzac Day.

1928 - It is widely accepted that 1928 marked the first organised dawn service. The story behind the origin of the service begins in April 1927, when a group of returned service men were leaving an Anzac function held the night before. They came across an elderly woman laying flowers at the then-unfinished Sydney Cenotaph. Joining her in remembrance, they decided to organise a dawn service at the site the following year. In 1928, 150 people gathered at the Cenotaph for a wreath-laying and two minutes silence.

1930s – Rituals such as dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions and two-up games are firmly established as part of Anzac Day culture.

Post-1940 –Anzac Day serves to also remember Australians who died in the Second World War. In the following years, the day is broadened to commemorate all Australians who have died fighting for their country, including those killed in Afghanistan.

1942 – Anzac Day is first commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

2007 - Indigenous communities organise Anzac Day marches to remember fallen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers.

Source SBS

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