ANZAC DAY, U.K. 2009

Continuing our coverage of ANZAC Day commemorations overseas, FFFAIF Secretary, Chris Munro reports on Anzac Day commemorations in UK.

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Photo: Cross of Sacrifice Church of St John the Evangelist Sutton Veny. [Chris Munro]

25 April is commemorated in the UK as Gallipoli Day and increasingly there are also Anzac Day commemorations.

A Dawn Service was held at 5a.m at the Australian and New Zealand War Memorials at Hyde Park Corner in London with an Anzac Day service at midday at Westminster Abbey. These were in addition to the Gallipoli Service in St Paul’s Cathedral and at the Cenotaph. Other services were held at Arbroath, Brokenhurst, Cannock Chase, Edinburgh, Harefield, Leighterton, Northampton, Oxford and Peterborough.

On the Salisbury Plain, where many training camps were established, the Anzac spirit was commemorated with school and public services.

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Photo: Sutton Veny school children in churchyard. [Chris Munro]

At Sutton Veny, in the Wyley Valley (GPS 51°10’29.70″N,  2° 8’26.70″W) where FFFAIF member Nicky Barnard lives and works at the village school, the children participated in an uplifting service on Friday 24 April to honour especially those soldiers buried in the churchyard at St John the Evangelist Church adjacent to the school.

Prior to this year’s service the Anzac Room at Sutton Veny School was officially opened by Col Michael Hickey of the Gallipoli Association.

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Photo: Sutton Veny School’s ANZAC Room. [Chris Munro]

Attending the church service were Major Marcus Beckett and RSM Paul Dunbavin of the Australian Army representing The Australian High Commission. During the service, the children recited poetry, sang songs and told stories of Anzacs and of remembrance. 

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Photo: RSM Paul Dunbavin and Sutton Veny students Darcie and Larnie Gask, who hail from Adelaide. [Chris Munro]

The children then moved into the churchyard to place a posy of flowers that they had made on the graves of a World War I soldier whose final resting place is the Salisbury Plain. There are 143 Australians from the Great War buried at Sutton Veny and 639 on the Salisbury Plain.

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Photo: Inside St John’s Church, Sutton Veny. [Chris Munro]

A more formal Anzac Day Service of Remembrance took place at St John the Evangelist Church on Sunday 26 April. With more than 100 attendees, FFFAIF Secretary, Chris Munro participated in the wreath laying following the service.  Wreaths were also laid by Major Christopher Waterhouse of New Zealand, Mrs Sara Jones CBE, Member of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Col. Peter Singh representing the Australian High Commission for the second consecutive year, Sir Christopher Benson, Deputy Chair of the British Australia Society and a representative of the British Legion. Nicky Barnard carried the Australian Standard again this year. 

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Photo: (l to r) Mr J. Winther (Church warden), Chris Munro (FFFAIF Secretary), Major Christopher Waterhouse (N.Z.), Col. Peter Singh Australian High Commission, Mrs H. Jones (CWGC), Sir Christopher Benson (British-Australia Assoc.), British Legion representative. [Chris Munro}

A Dawn Service is held at Codford St Mary’s (GPS 51° 9’25.40″N, 2° 2’17.54″W) at 6:30a.m. on Anzac Day in commemoration of the sacrifice of the original Anzacs.  About 50 people attended the Dawn Service followed by a Gunfire breakfast (where rum is added to the tea or coffee) and Anzac biscuits at the Codford Village Hall. There are 31Australian and 66 New Zealand soldiers buried at Codford.

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Photo: Codford Cemetery in Wyley Valley. [Chris Munro]

 

The Warminster Journal that circulates in the Warminster and Westbury region covered these commemorations in its 1st May edition with one and a half pages devoted to the Sutton Veny services (Children Honour Anzacs and Village Remembers Anzacs) and the Codford service (Anzac Day in Codford).

FFFAIF member, Chris Munro, also participated in Anzac commemorations which took place in a small village 20 km west of Salisbury at St Edith’s Baverstock (GPS 51° 5’0.69″N,  1°57’38.88″W), (near Dinton). The local villagers filled the church to commemorate Anzac Day with special emphasis on the 29 Australians buried in the churchyard.  This year’s service was the fourth Anzac service held at St Edith’s.  The service was led by Alan Jeans, the Archdeacon of Sarum and was attended by descendants of two of the soldiers: Private Albertson (Linda O’Donnell) and CQMS Alan Andrews (Chris Munro).  Wreaths were laid by the descendants, the Australian Defence Forces for the Australian High Commission, Nicky Barnard representing FFFAIF and the British Legion. 

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Photo: Australian High Commission representative, Chris Munro (FFFAIF) and  Alan Jeans, the Archdeacon of Sarum at St Edith’s Baverstock [Chris Munro]

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Photo: Grave of Private George Albertson [Chris Munro] 

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Photo; Grave CQMS Alan Andrews [Chris Munro] 

Once again local school children were involved in the commemoration.  They visited the churchyard which is about 3 km from the school at Dinton to learn about the soldiers and why they came all the way from Australia and how they came to be buried in the churchyard in the UK.  They placed an Australian flag on each grave in preparation for the evening Anzac service.  In the nearby village of Dinton, the New Zealand flag was flown at half-mast until midday and then raised for the remainder of the day. 

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Photo: Senior class Dinton Village School [Chris Munro]

Over the over four years in which the Anzac Day service has been held at St Edith Baverstock, descendants of four Australian soldiers have made contact with FFFAIF Secretary, Chris Munro, who has compiled profiles of the 29 Australian soldiers buried at Baverstock, along with the 28 buried at nearby Compton Chamberlayne (GPS 51° 3’56.70″N, 1°57’36.52″W).  Any descendants who want a copy of their soldier’s profile or may be able to provide additional information may contact Chris at projectfffaif@yahoo.com.au.

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*****

The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French governments for affording Australian and British soldiers – presently buried in mass graves at Pheasant Wood – dignified individual reburials in a new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds Minister Snowdon and his British counterpart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans, Kevan Jones MP, for their joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.

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