Friday, April 24, 2020

Alphabet 2020: D is for Diggers

Tomorrow is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, a day when we celebrate the sacrifices made by our soldiers during conflicts. The reason why it we celebrate on this day, is because on April 25, 1915, our soldiers arrived at Gallipoli, the first time that we had fought not as British soldiers, but as Australians. The word Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, and this is a day that we share proudly with our New Zealand comrades.

Over the years I have shared a number of different posts about Anzac Day

2015 - Gunfire Breakfast
2013 - Quote from Daughter of Mars by Tom Keneally
2012 - Joint post with Maree from Just Add Books
2011 - Acknowledging indigenous diggers/I was only Nineteen
2010 - Anzac Biscuits
2010 - My grandparent's story/reading war stories
2009 - Two up.
2008 - The Last Post

In the Gunfire Breakfast post I talked about going to the dawn service which is a huge part of the Anzac Day tradition for many people. I am more likely to spend the day watching documentaries and being emotionally moved by televised live services from around the country and from places like Anzac Cove (Gallipolli) than go out in the predawn to go to a dawn service but I do every now and again.

This year though, Anzac Day is going to be different for everyone due to the current social distancing requirements. There will be no dawn service where 400-500,000 people gather in the early hours of the morning to wait for the dawn remembrance service. There will be no parade through the city, no smaller services in the suburbs and local towns, no reunions for those ex serviceman who gather together after the formalities, no Anzac Day football match attended by close enough to 100000 people.

Instead, we are being invited to head out into our driveways at dawn on Saturday and to livestream a service. Yes, it still means getting up early, but it's not a 4am start like it could be if you are trying to head into the city, and the bonus is that you could then go back to bed for a while after the service is over. Our intention is to participate in this years commemoration, and then we are going to share a Zoom breakfast together with friends.

During the period between Christmas and New Year we went to Perth to visit family and we took the opportunity to head down to the very south of Western Australia to a town called Albany. Albany plays an important role in the Anzac story because for many of the young men who answered the call to arms, this was the last place they ever saw in Australia. Albany is where the convoy of ships all gathered together before sailing towards their fate.

A few years ago there was a museum called National Anzac Centre built on a hill overlooking the body of water where the ships were anchored. It's a beautiful location and the building perfectly frames the views. The whole museum was really well done and a very interesting experience. As you enter the museum you are given a card which has a name on. Throughout the museum there are interactive points where you place  your card and it tells you what your person experienced as part of their war. My card featured probably one of the most famous Australian generals, so I knew part of his story, and that he survived. Throughout the exhibition there are the usual things that you expect such as uniforms and weapons, there are the stories, but there are also art pieces and quiet spaces where you can contemplate what you have seen, the past, the present and future.

If you ever find yourself in Albany, which is a beautiful part of the world anyway, the National Anzac Centre is a fabulous place to spend the day. In addition to the museum there are are lookouts, walks, historical forts that you can explore as part of the bigger complex.

I guess I should explain how this is a D post in the alphabet. Since the latter part of WWI the word digger has been associated with Aussie soldiers and is still in use today. It really has come to symbolise the values of mateship, courage and endurance that are so prized within our armed services, and in the perceived national psyche.

So, in this year where we we will be commemorating Anzac Day in a very different way, this post is my way of remembering our diggers who have served our country, sacrificing so much, and for many of them, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Lest we forget.


  1. we got up early to go out to our driveway for the 6am anzac day commemoration. it was lovely to see so many people up in the street. cheers

    1. We got up early to watch the service too. I think it was very evocative to see those places that were normally so packed with people so empty..

  2. Great post. Good to know about the usual celebrations. It'll be great when we can do those things again.

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    1. i am looking forward to being able to do the simple and enjoyable things in life!

      Thanks for stopping by!