Thursday, April 30, 2015

The first Anzac Day commemorations

I have found some reports about the commemoration of ANZAC Day in 1916 in the region.  The local papers had lots of reports about fund raising events, send-offs for the local boys who enlisted and sad news about injuries and deaths but I was interested in any reports that specifically referred to Anzac.

The Lang Lang Guardian covered reports from Lang Lang and Yallock (see below) The Pakenham Gazette/Berwick Shire News, which covered Pakenham, Berwick and parts of the Koo-wee-Rup Swamp, had two reports of Anzac commemorations held at the Berwick and Harkaway State Schools (see below)  The Dandenong Advertiser advertised a Patriotic Picnic Meeting at Pakenham on Anzac Day to raise money for the Red Cross.  The picnic had pony races, ‘flag and barrel’ races; ‘pitching the sheaf’ ‘throwing at wicket’ and ‘kicking football for goal’ events. The Advertiser also reported that Pakenham Upper, Pakenham, Toomuc Valley and Pakenham South schools had concerts planned.  The South Bourke and Mornington Journal, which also covered this area, reported only on an event at Dandenong State School.

There was an article in The Argus of April 22, 1916 which indicated that all Schools in the State held a service - The landing of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers on Gallipoli was commemorated in all the State schools of Victoria on Thursday by simple yet impressive ceremonies. The actual anniversary day is April 25, but Thursday was selected as the day of commemoration because next week the school children will be on holiday. 

So, it seems likely that all schools in Victoria must have held a ceremony similar to those at the schools mentioned in the reports below.

Lang Lang
The anniversary of the day on which the Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on Gallipoli was celebrated at the Lang Lang State School on Thursday last. In the morning the ordinary school programme was carried out and in the afternoon a number of parents and friends assembled while the students sang Kipling’s ‘ Lest we Forget’, ‘ O God our help in ages past’ and the National Anthem, including the verse ‘God bless our splendid men’. The ceremony of saluting the flag was also gone through and the declaration made: ‘I love God and my Country, I will serve the King and cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the laws’. During the afternoon short and appropriate addresses were delivered by the Rev H. De Putron Hitchcock and Mr W. Cole.
Lang Lang Guardian April 26 1916

Anzac Day was celebrated at Yallock School on Thursday. The Rev H. De Putron Hitchcock addressed the children early in the afternoon owing to his having to attend a similar function at Lang Lang at 2 o’clock. The ladies supplied lunch for  the children in their usual sumptuous manner after which a new flag was unfurled and then the Education Department’s programme was adhered to with songs and recitation by the children who did credit to their teacher, Miss Merrigan, who has had the charge of the school for so short a time. Tennis for the grown-ups and races for the children filled in the rest of the afternoon when tea was served and all left for home having thoroughly enjoyed the outing.
Lang Lang Guardian April 26 1916

At the Anzac Day celebrations at Harkaway school an address was delivered in the morning by Mr G. O. Lyon,chairman of the school committee, and in the afternoon an address was given by Cr a’Beckett, correspondent of the committee.
Berwick Shire News May 3, 1916

The report in the Berwick Shire News of April 26, 1916 about the Anzac Day celebrations at Berwick School was many paragraphs long. It started by saying that the event was a great success. There was a large attendance of both adult and children and the proceedings throughout were very interesting. The programme was opened by the children singing Kipling’s Recessional hymn ‘God of Our fathers’.

Cr a’Beckett later spoke It was a very important occasion. They had Arbor Day, Bird Day, Empire Day and he understood they were to have a Flower Day, but in the future Anzac Day would be the greatest of them all, as it was a time when they would meet to show their appreciation of and gratitude for the noble deeds of our soldiers at Gallipoli, where many had given their lives for King and Country. All should be proud of their feat of arms. We all believed that they were fighting in a good cause.  Cr a’Beckett went on to say  It was the greatest of sacrifices to lay down one’s  life for a friend , yet many of our soldiers had done this and it would be hoped that such acts of heroism would never be forgotten.  

Cr A’Beckett then presented the school with their Roll of Honour and read the names of the old scholars who had enlisted, numbering 51.  Sergeant Gardiner then spoke, followed by Sergeant-major Leo Rankine.  The Principal, Mr McCann then proposed  a hearty vote of thanks to the speakers. The article reported that the school had raised over £40 for the war effort and the girls had made  a large number of articles and that they also sold 116 Anzac badges. The proceedings closed with the evening hymn, ‘Abide with me’. The children saluted the flag and lollies and fruit were then handed around.
Berwick Shire News April 26, 1915.

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