21 ANZAC Day Facts

ANZAC Day is upon us again, so I thought I’d share some interesting and often unknown facts about ANZACS and ANZAC Day, so others will understand why we honour this national day. The ANZACs were all volunteers. April 25, Anzac Day, was the day the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. 25 April, was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916. The first dawn service on an ANZAC Day was in 1923. AIF is an abbreviation for Australian Imperial Force. There is no town called “Gallipoli”. It is the name of an area. Visitors to Gallipoli usually stay at nearby towns – like Ecubeat. ANZAC Day was not a public holiday in New Zealand until 1921. ANZAC Day was not a public holiday in Australia until 1921. However it was not observed uniformly in all the states. The Gallipoli Peninsula is very near the famous ancient city of Troy. The term ANZAC is protected under Australian law. More than 11,000 ANZACs died at Gallipoli and more than 23,500 were wounded. Services are held at dawn because in battle, dawn was the best time to attack the enemy. Soldiers would wake in the dark so at the first signs of light they were alert and awake. The original Anzac biscuit was known as an Anzac wafer or tile and was part of the rations given to the ANZAC soldiers during World War I. They were included instead of bread because they had a much longer shelf life. Anzac biscuits were created by wives of soldier’s who wanted to bake healthy goodies for their men. They lacked egg and milk, so kept for a long time and didn’t spoil during transport. The Poppy as a...

Anzac Day Blog Challenge: He Was Proud to be Australian...

When Auckland City Libraries put our the call for the Anzac Day Blog Challenge again, I just had to accept. I would like to introduce you to my Great Grandpa … Otto Rafael Winter … he was a proud Australian. Born in Helsinki, Finland in 1880, at age 22 Otto chose to leave his family, friends and life as he knew it to become a seaman. This was not only his way of getting to see the world, but also it was the best way to escape compulsory conscription to the Russian Army. Having worked on cargo ships for a number of years, in 1907 Otto jumped ship in Australia to start the next phase of his life. Why he chose Australia is one of those questions that sadly I’ll never know. But I do know that he adopted Australia as his new home, and in 1909 chose to become an Australian citizen. To further prove his allegiance to his adopted homeland, in 1916 he signed up with the Australian Imperial Force, was assigned to the 50th Battalion, 1st AIF, and was stationed at Marselles, Belgium. He was wounded several times, including being  shot in the stomach and poisoned with mustard gas while tunnelling at Ypres. Despite this, he survived and made it home in 1919 to his young wife (Irene) and baby boy (Harold). Australian patriotism was shown yet again when World War II broke out when Otto signed up in 1942 for the Volunteer Defence Corps. He did some further training in Australia during 1943, but wasn’t called up to go to the battlefields this time, and was discharged in late 1945. While there is still much for me to learn about my great grandpa’s life, thanks...