Anzac Day Dawn Service Fremantle War Memorial Australia
History of the Dawn Service
Musician Robin Kidney from the Darwin Army Band sounds the last post during the 2011 1st Combat Engineer Regiment Dawn Service at Robertson Barracks, Darwin.
During the battle, the half-light of dawn was one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the ‘stand-to’.
After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn vigil, recalling the wartime front line practise of the dawn ‘stand-to’, became the basis of a form of commemoration in several places after the war.
The Dawn Service is not an Army specific ceremony. It is a public ceremony normally conducted by the Returned and Services League of Australia with involvement across all three Services of the Australian Defence Force. The origins of the Dawn Service are not entirely clear and research is currently being undertaking by Australian military historians to ascertain the true beginnings of the Dawn Service.
It is probable that the holding of a commemorative service at dawn may have had its origins from either the military practice of ‘stand to’ at dawn on the battlefield, or it may also have recognised origins from the dawn landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
Current research indicates there may be a number of ‘first’ Dawn Services held; they include:
Service held on the Western Front by an Australian Battalion on 25 Apr 1916;
A service held at Toowoomba Queensland in 1919 or 1920;
A service conducted in Albany, Western Australia in 1923 (or later); and/or
A service held in the newly build Cenotaph at Martin Place, Sydney in 1928.
It is conceivable that a number of Dawn Services did occur independently of each other with participants not having any knowledge of the other services held in other locations.
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.
Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga, and previously was a national holiday in Papua New Guinea and Samoa
Anzac Day Dawn Service Fremantle War Memorial Australia. – Event date: 25th of April 2018
About Fremantle War Memorial
Rising 43 metres above sea level to the east of the city centre, Monument Hill is one of the best vantage points in Fremantle. The hill overlooks Fremantle Harbour, Garden Island, and Rottnest Island to the west, and the Darling Ranges to the east, and is the highest natural point of elevation between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Ranges. The Fremantle War Memorial occupies the high ground of Monument Hill.
Monument Hill was identified early as one of the best vantage points in Fremantle. An obelisk at the summit of Monument Hill was constructed in 1874 for use as a trig point by surveyors and navigators. In an 1870s planning map of Fremantle, the obelisk was shown under the name “Obelisk Hill”, which remained in use until its demolition prior to the construction of the memorial in the 1920s. The area around the hill comprised limestone outcrops and low scrub. After the Western Australian gold rushes in the 1890s, a number of shantytowns, commonly referred to as “canvas towns”, came into existence on the outskirts of Fremantle, including on Monument Hill. The reserve was vested as a public park on 20 July 1904, under the name Obelisk Reserve. Under the specifications of Fremantle’s town engineer, quarrying of the limestone outcrops commenced shortly after and was used by a number of local companies, including the Fremantle Tramways. Various landscaping works were carried out between 1904 and 1910, including the planting of trees, and construction of footpaths, drinking fountains, and fixed jarrah seats.
Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand.