Australian High Commission
United Kingdom
Australia House, London

High Commissioner's Message for ANZAC Day 2020


As the sun rose over Europe 105 years ago today, Australian and New Zealand soldiers rowed in landing craft towards the shores of Gallipoli - towards the first major military action that would be fought by our two nations in the Great War - towards the making of the ANZAC legend.

Their story is well-known.  Almost all of them were very young men. Many were still teenagers.  For most, it was the first time they had left their native shores.  Driven by a love of country and by a spirit of adventure, they little knew, that long-ago April morning, the hell which was about to engulf them.

While the Gallipoli campaign might have failed in its military objectives, the actions of those brave Australian and New Zealand soldiers over a century ago left a powerful legacy.

A legacy which, in the challenging times in which the world unexpectedly finds itself now, has perhaps never been more important.

The ANZAC story is one of tremendous loss and sacrifice.  A tale of husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who would never come home again. 

But in the crucible of their sacrifice was forged the identity of our two nations.

More than twenty million men, women and children perished during the Great War:  one of mankind’s most shocking conflicts – even more horrifying than most wars, because it was so unnecessary and so avoidable.    Among them were more than 62,000 Australian soldiers and 18,000 New Zealanders who gave their lives – at Gallipoli, on the Western Front, and in Palestine.

On this ANZAC Day, of course, we conduct our remembrance in a very different way than we are accustomed to doing.   This year, the crowds solemnly gathering at dawn services and cheering along parade routes are replaced by countless acts of quiet, solitary remembrance. 

But the way we remember matters little.  It is what we remember that counts.

And what we remember is not just a legend of loss and sacrifice.  It is, as well, a story of heroism and of endurance, of mateship and of valour, of young men who discovered the best of themselves in the worst of all circumstances.

So despite – indeed because of – the fearful times through which we are living, ANZAC Day this year holds, for us, an even greater significance than normal.

It is the very attributes of courage in the face of adversity, of endurance and resolve, which the ANZACs showed us, that we must now embrace in response to our own very different time of trial.

So today, let us not only remember them and honour them.  Let us be inspired by them as well.

Lest we forget.