ON A beautiful spring Sunday morning, members of the Arbroath branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland gathered at the War Graves in the Western Cemetery, to pay their respects as part of the New Zealand Society’s ANZAC Day service.
Every year for the last 12 years, the branch has been honoured to act as host for this service on the nearest Sunday to ANZAC Day, April 25.
About 100 Kiwis, Australians and other veterans gathered in the warm spring sun and at 12 noon 212 Battery RA(V) fired a salute to remember the ultimate sacrifice of over 10,000 ANZAC servicemen on the battlefield at Gallipoli.
Pipe Sergeant Mike Thain played the lament, ‘They watch over Scotia still’, which was composed by Jim Fitzpatrick, a former New Zealand Society member.
Similar services are carried out all over the world where there are Australians or New Zealanders. In their respective countries, it is arguably the most important day of the year and is a public holiday, where all communities gather to remember the fallen but to celebrate the achievements of their country.
So why is it such an important day and what has it got to do with Arbroath?
On April 25, 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), landed at dawn on the beaches in the Dardanelles as part of the Gallipoli campaign. This was the first major military action both countries had fought together under their own command and became known as the ANZACs.
The exceptionally high rate of casualties suffered by the ANZAC troops and the dogged determination of the Diggers and Troopers, formed the hallmark of the renown Antipodean character.
The Arbroath Legion’s researcher, Dougie Reid, has identified 14 Red Lichties who died in the Dardanelles, of which, two were with the Australian Imperial Force and one with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. A more detailed account can be found along with the other historical albums which are kept in the lounge bar in Helen Street.