On Monday this week, I watched a live stream online of the ANZAC services in New Zealand then went to the 11am ANZAC Day service held at the base of the Statue à la Memoire des Combattants (‘Le Poilu’) at Fort Carre in Antibes.
The Antibes event includes a 5.30am Dawn Service and is a nice morning of remembrance that commemorates all Australians and New Zealander’s who served and died in wars and on operational service, and also honours returned servicemen and women.
The date itself – 25 April – marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the ANZACS – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. This was Turkish territory that formed part of Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait to the Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and, it was hoped, force a Turkish surrender. The Allied forces encountered unexpectedly strong resistance from the Turks, and both sides suffered huge loss of life (source: Anzac.govt.nz)
I have been to many ANZAC services since I was a child and the importance will be explained to my own sons when they are older. My own family has members who have served in wars and one who was a Farrier Serjeant with the New Zealand Field Artillery in WWI is actually buried in northern France in a British Cemetery in Pas de Calais. I located the exact plot last year and will be visiting some time in the future on behalf of 46 Kiwi families and the National Army Museum in New Zealand to lay a poppy on each gravesite in that plot with a cross of woven flax (used traditionally in Maori weaving in New Zealand).
Thank you to the organisers of the Antibes ANZAC Service, it means a lot to many expats so far from home.
Here are a few photos from Monday’s service (all photos credited to Michel Tolosano):