Anzac Day

Lest we forget

April 25 is the day of remembrance for the fallen of all wars, but specifically it commemorates the day Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) landed at Gallipoli in 1915.

For information about local Anzac Day services please go to the RSA website, www.rsa.org.nz or for the World War 1 Anzac collection visit ww100.govt.nz

 

Significance of the Poppy

Red poppies made of light cloth or paper, they are traditionally worn on and around Anzac Day as a mark of respect to those who died while serving their country.

The poppy has its origins in the early twentieth century, when red or Flanders poppies bloomed over the graves of soldiers in France and Belgium. The poppy is now the undisputed symbol of remembrance, although its design has undergone several changes over the decades.
 

Poppy Day

The first poppy day in New Zealand was held on 24 April 1922 and it met with much public enthusiasm. In all, 245,059 small poppies were sold for one shilling each and 15,157 large poppies for two shillings each.

Some of the money received was sent to the French Children’s League and the rest was used to assist unemployed soldiers in need, and their families, during the winter of 1922. So began the tradition of the Poppy Day Appeal as a means of raising funds for the welfare of returned service people and their families.
 

Why Poppies?

Poppies only flower in rooted up soil. Their seeds can lie on the ground for years and years, and it's only when someone roots up the ground that they will sprout. There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front, that the whole front consisted of churned up soil.

In May 1915, when Colonel John McCrae wrote his famous poem about Flanders Field in Belgium, around him poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before. 
 

In Flanders Fields (The Poem)

Canadian poet, Colonel John McCrae, first described the Flanders poppy as a flower of remembrance. During the second battle of Ypres in 1915, when in charge of a small first aid post, he wrote the following in pencil on a page torn from his field dispatch book:

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place, and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarcely heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

Colonel McCrae died while on active service in May 1918, but the concept of the red poppy lives on when we use it to salute the memory of those who made sacrifices for their country in wartime.
 

Anzac Day references

Anzac Day reference material

Anzac Day 2016 programme

Anzac Day 2016 photo gallery
 

The sounds of Anzac Day

Every Anzac Day ceremony involves the playing of the Last Post and Rouse and the reciting of the Ode, first in Te Reo and second in English.

The New Zealand Army Band has made recordings of each of these which are available for download from the links below:

This page was last reviewed on 26 April 2016 and is current.