Dawn was not only the start of a brand new day, but it was a strategic defensive tactic employed by the military. The early morning light, as the sun slowly rose slowly over the horizon, played tricks on the eyes. In war, it was the perfect time to take advantage of your enemy.
And so was born the Anzac Day Dawn Service.
Commemorative services are held on 25 April each year at dawn, the time of the original landing at Gallipoli where the Anzacs faced the Ottoman empire. It was a war that stretched out for eight months with both sides suffering heavily before the war ended in 1915.
The strategic position taken up at Gallipoli involved those on the front line being woken just before dawn, to allow them time to become alert. They sat in still silence waiting and watching a the first dim light rose across the battlefield.
This was known as “stand to” which became an important part of the first official Dawn Service held in 1927 where returned soldiers gathered to reflect and remember the quiet, pre-dawn peacefulness and the comradeship they felt.
As more and more of our younger generation flock to attend Dawn Services across the country, it is important to remember the operational origins which are observed by Australian and New Zealand each year. It is a time to reflect on the many different meanings of war.
Although the military effort failed in its objective, the Gallipoli legend left a powerful legacy in which it created an identity of how both Australia and New Zealand shape and view the past, present and future.