Coronavirus: Australia and New Zealand commemorate Anzac Day from home

25 April 2020, 13:17

Anzac Day services have been impacted by coronavirus restrictions
Anzac Day services have been impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Australians and New Zealanders were forced to mark Anzac Day from inside and outside their homes as memorial services were hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

The annual day of remembrance for Aussies and Kiwis who have fallen in global conflicts is traditionally the calendar's largest event for the two countries.

However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has meant that large gatherings are not possible in either nation.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern began proceedings by sharing an Instagram post that showed a wreath outside her home in Wellington, the country's capital.

A second photo also showed her and fiance Clarke Gayford standing with her father, Ross Ardern.

She wrote: "On my street one of our neighbours played the service through a small speaker while we all stood apart but together... A different, but still a really special Anzac Day. Lest we forget."

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Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted a photograph of himself with wife Jenny at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra with the caption "Lest We Forget".

He delivered a commemorative address at the site in the nation's capital, while the memorial's Twitter account encouraged people to share photos of themselves outside their homes for the traditional dawn service.

Anzac Day, held every year on 25 April, commemorates the anniversary of the start of the brutal First World War Gallipoli landings.

Thousands of Anzac troops (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) died in the 1915 campaign that is widely recognised as a costly defeat for Entente powers.

Waves of Allied forces launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important Turkish peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan, backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to a stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Its legacy is the celebration of the "Anzac spirit" - courage, endurance, initiative, discipline and mateship - shown by the Antipodean troops.

The Australian High Commission held a special commemoration service, hosted by the High Commissioner for Australia and the Acting High Commissioner for New Zealand, from their respective homes in the UK from 11am.

The Sydney Opera House posted a picture of a lone bugler calling out from the steps of the building at dawn.

Meanwhile, Clarence House, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the Royal Navy all paid their respects to the "brave and selfless" troops who "served alongside our own British soldiers."

The Royal Navy tweeted: "Today we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our #Australian and #NewZealand friends and allies on #ANZACDay, remembering the Commonwealth soldiers who stormed Gallipoli #OTD (on this day) in 1915, ferried ashore by the Royal Nave on the first day of the Dardanelles campaign."

Hundreds of people took to social media to upload their own pictures of them standing respectfully at dawn either by candlelight or with their neighbours along the streets of Australia and New Zealand.

Lest we forget. #AnzacDay2020

Posted by Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom on Saturday, 25 April 2020