Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac - what does it really stand for

Lest we forget

ANZAC Day is the 25th of April every year here in Australia. It is a day of commemoration and reflection. For Australians and New Zealanders it is a day to remember those who fought for our freedom and for the troops who still fight today on our behalf.  It is a somber morning, starting with a dawn service but after that is is a lively day of drinking, telling stories and playing two-up (more on that later).

 Today I celebrate my grandfather, my great uncles who fought in Papua New Guinea, my best friend's father who is a Vietnam Veteran.

I've been to the ANZAC parade in Sydney and the atmosphere is something everyone should experience. There is a real pride in the air and a feeling of mateship among those who use this day to find old mates and reminisce about the fallen. It is a day for reconnection not only to those who still live but to our own history as  Australians.

ANZAC stands for - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

It all began in 1915. In Egypt when the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) was formed. They fought as a force at Gallipoli under General William Birdwood. The MEF consisted of the First Australian Imperial Force and the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force but was later renamed ANZAC. The corps was disbanded in 1916 after the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula but was renamed the ANZAC Corps (under General Birdwood) and II ANZAC Corps (under Lieutenant General Alexander Godley).
Poster of the ANZACs
Sheep skin vests kept our troops warm during the campaign on the western front. Great industry went into providing these vests so our troops could stay warm in the unforgiving winter in a foriegn land.


In World War II they formed again and were instrumental in the battle of Crete and other skirmishes in that area.

Nowadays we tend to put all the military under the same banner as ANZACs but  Australian military also under another name: Diggers.


Digger Evolved out of WWI, the term has been linked to the concept of the ANZACs but in a wider context, it is linked to the concept of mateship. Originally a digger was an Australian miner, but it goes further back to the days of the Eureka stockade rebellion of 1854.

Diggers stuck together, dug trenches together, shared cigarettes and care packages. They stuck it out and they dug in for the long haul. They always looked out for their mate and often, tragically, they died together. This was a theme throughout the Australian and New Zealand military and still sticks today. It stands for such things as endurance, good humour, courage and mateship. A digger should be resourceful, hardy but above all be a good mate.

Two-up (the game)

The rules of two-up are easy. The ringkeeper controls the spinner and they conduct the game. The spinner places two pennies on the kip and tosses them. The pennies must to spin at least two metres over the head of the spinner and must not come into contact with anything or body and must land within the boundaries of the ring to be a valid toss. Players bet on either two tails or two heads when they land.  No other result is valid.
Two-up paddle
 This is a fast paced, frantic game and is traditionally only played on ANZAC day.

Have a wonderful ANZAC day tomorrow and spare a thought for those who lost their lives while defending our shores here and abroad. And to those Diggers who still fight for us today.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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