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  • ANZAC Day 2014: Dawn Service at the Australian Embassy Beijing

    The poppy, a symbol of human sacrifice in World War I, 1914-1918

    The 28th Maori Battalion stationed in Egypt during World War II, 1939-1945


    25/04/2014 - The New Zealand Centre pays respects on ANZAC Day 2014, Dawn Service held at the Australian Embassy in Sanlitun, Beijing.

    Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served." Originally 25 April every year was to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga.

    In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied casualties included 21,255 from the United Kingdom, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

    With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders lost in that war as well and in subsequent years. The meaning of the day has been further broadened to include those killed in all the military operations in which the countries have been involved.Australians and New Zealanders recognise 25 April as a ceremonial occasion to reflect on the cost of war and to remember those who fought and lost their lives for their country.

    The ANZAC Day Dawn Service for 2014 was held at the Australian Embassy in Sanlitun, Beijing, attended by Australian Ambassador HE Ms Frances Adamson, New Zealand Ambassador HE Mr Carl Worker, and Turkish Ambassador HE Mrs Bengdu Yigitguden. The event was also attended by military attaches from almost two dozen countries, including China's Peoples' Liberation Army, to pay respects to the fallen. Speakers acknowledged the terrible sacrifice of ANZAC soldiers, and warned of the importance to avoid war at all costs, with New Zealand Ambassador HE Mr Worker saying in his dedication "we must all work together in making the world a better place, and using any means at our disposal". It is noteworthy that the Last Post was played on the bugle by Major Hou Bing of China's Peoples' Liberation Army. The laying of wreaths took place towards the end of ceremonies, and attendees were able to place their own poppies on the ANZAC memorial stone. The morning ceremony was followed by a traditional 'gunfire breakfast' (coffee mixed with a dash of rum).

    If you are interested in learning more about the ANZAC experience, you can visit the New Zealand government website dedicated to the preservation of the ANZAC legacy.

    The Australian government also provides a similar website with information more relevant to Australian descendants of ANZAC veterans.

    You can learn more about the experiences of the 28th Maori Battalion (pictured above) on their memorial website .

    Are you concerned about attending the next ANZAC dawn service in Beijing? We suggest you check our website in early April of every year for details. Alternatively, the embassies of Australia and New Zealand provide notifications on their websites and newsletter service with regards to upcoming ANZAC ceremonies. Contact our liaison officers for help in establishing contact with them (contact details for our liaison officers are here). If you are a New Zealand intern, student, or young person living in Beijing, we strongly encourage you to make contact with the Centre so that we can inform you of up-and-coming events such as ANZAC services or other events involving our partner institutions and beyond.

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