Anzac Day, 1944

 

Anzac Day remembers those members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who in the First World War suffered so heavily during the Gallipoli Campaign. The landings on this stretch of the Turkish coast commenced on the 25th April 1915, and in the years since the day has been loyally observed by the people of Australia and New Zealand as a time to remember those that fell. The fact that they were Prisoners of War did not in any way alter the decision of the descendants of the ANZAC soldiers to mark the occasion.

 

On Tuesday 25th April 1944, the 1,000 strong Australian and New Zealand contingent at Stalag 383 began the commemoration with an impressive Dawn Service, announced by the release of numerous green flares outside of the camp. In the early morning gloom, Padre Terence Oakley recited the opening lines of the Recessional, and as the light began to rise, massed bugles sounded the Last Post and the beginning of a two minute silence, following which the bugles announced the daily roll call.

 

Australian servicemen lead the march past The South African contingent march by Welsh soldiers march past Men on parade to mark Anzac Day

 

As they would have done under normal circumstances, the various elements of the British Empire took part in a march-past, led by the Australians under Major Brooke Moore, the New Zealanders by Captain J. Crawford, and then followed by representatives of England, Scotland (who marched with kilts, bagpipes and drums), Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Canada, South Africa, Palestine and Cyprus.

 

Amongst the Australian and New Zealand prisoners present at Stalag 383, there were 32 veterans of the First World War. These were honoured with a special supper, at which there was also in attendance four members of the 29th Division, which had participated in the Gallipoli landings, and the two youngest members in the camp, 20 year old Corporal Tippy Ramona and 21 year old Corporal Alan Leach representing New Zealand and Australia respectively. Every effort was made to remove any signs of imprisonment from the Veterans' Supper. The place of each guest at the table was marked by a card featuring his name and regimental colours, coats of arms representing the Commonwealth decorated the room, and three-colour illustrated menu cards were provided, courtesy of the home-made printing press that the prisoners had created.

 

  The 880 yard race, part of the Anzac Day sports Anzac Day, 1944

 

The day ended with a series of sporting contests and a themed evening of theatre.