While Anzac Day, April 25, was originally chosen to commemorate the brave soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli, Turkey, against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, the country gathers on the day each year to pay its respects to all who’ve sacrificed their lives fighting wars.
And each year, at dawn, the joint Australian and New Zealand Dawn Service is held, not just at Gallipoli, but also at Villers-Bretonneux in northern France, to mark the battles fought against the German army in Europe.
Last year was the centenary of the end of WWI and also the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in France, when Australian units helped defend and recapture the French town from the Germans. To mark both anniversaries, a new $99.5 million museum was opened at Villers-Bretonneux. Called the Sir John Monash Centre, it gives visitors an insight into the life of the soldiers in the trenches on the Western Front.
And although it's been over a hundred years since the end of World War I, we continue to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for others.
History of the Dawn Service
The origins of the Anzac Day Dawn Service is most likely in keeping with the military tactic of gathering to attack at first light, a routine commonly referred to as “stand-to”.
Soldiers who returned home after the First World War would later seek comradeship during those peaceful early hours of the day, leading to what became a dawn vigil in later years.
There is also the possibility that the Dawn Service is meant to commemorate the early-morning landing of the troops at Gallipoli, but no matter the reason, the tradition has become an integral part of our Anzac Day Services.
Watching the Dawn Service on TV
Almost every town in Australia (small or large) has its own service to commemorate Anzac Day, and thousands of people also travel to gather at the battle sites of Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux for the Dawn Service.
If you’d like to be a part of the occasion but can’t make it to a local or international service, you can also watch it live on television.
The ABC will begin live coverage of Dawn Services from around the country at 4:30am on Thursday, April 25. Coverage will begin from the Anzac Memorial in Sydney, followed by the Dawn Service from Canberra at 5.30am AEST.
This will be followed by live local coverage of marches in all State and Territory capital cities from 8:45am AEST.
The Gallipoli Dawn Service will commence at 12:30pm AEST from Anzac Cove in Turkey, and will be followed by the the Anzac Day Dawn Service from the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux at 1:30pm AEST.
The ABC will also broadcast the Anzac Day Address by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, immediately before the ABC evening news bulletin at 7pm.
Streaming the Dawn Service online
If you won’t be home to watch the Dawn Service on the TV, you can download ABC’s iview app on your smartphone or tablet and watch the broadcast live. The app is available for both Android (opens in new tab) and iOS (opens in new tab). You can also stream it live on the ABC iview website as well.