Marking the first Anzac Day in London

In April 1916, a year after the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, the first anniversary of the battle was observed in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. A grand memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by King George V and Queen Mary. Hundreds of New Zealand and Australian military personnel marched through the streets to the Abbey to attend the service. 

Among them was Sydney-born Dr Agnes Bennett, who had been working in Egyptian hospitals treating the wounded from Gallipoli. Some 40 years later she recalled the experience in this excerpt from a radio ‘talk.’

Year:1916 (Recorded 1959)

Location:London, England

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Marking the first Anzac Day in London

In April 1916, a year after the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, the first anniversary of the battle was observed in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. A grand memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by King George V and Queen Mary. Hundreds of New Zealand and Australian military personnel marched through the streets to the Abbey to attend the service. 

Among them was Sydney-born Dr Agnes Bennett, who had been working in Egyptian hospitals treating the wounded from Gallipoli. Some 40 years later she recalled the experience in this excerpt from a radio ‘talk.’


Year: 1916 (Recorded 1959)

Length: 00:00:49

Source: Radio New Zealand collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Catalogue Reference: 27632 [Talk by Dr Agnes Bennett on her experiences in World War I.]


People: Dr Agnes Elizabeth Lloyd Bennett

Location: London, England


Image Title: Australian and New Zealand soldiers marching to Westminster Abbey to commemorate the first Anzac Day, London, 25 April 1916. National Library of Australia

Image Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-vn6572573-v


Thousands of people lined the streets of London on 25 April 1916 to watch the Anzacs parade to a memorial service at Westminster Abbey.

The service was attended by military leaders and dignitaries from many nations of the British Empire, as well as soldiers themselves. The ceremony saw several features which are still common in Anzac Day services 100 years later - Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Recessional Hymn’ (“God of our fathers, known of old”), wreath-laying, and the sounding of the ‘Last Post’.

The service was widely reported in New Zealand and Australian newspapers:

“Many of the wounded men were on stretchers.  The King, on departing, stepped aside and warmly shook hands and conversed with Trooper Geange of the 6th Wellington Mounted Corps, who was lying on a stretcher…

The procession from Kingsway to the Abbey was through streets packed with decorous crowds of people. The heroes were greeted with hand-clapping, the waving of handkerchiefs, occasional concerted hip-hip-hurrahs, and some Australian coo-ees [bush calls], which the Londoners vainly essayed [attempted] to imitate.

Many ladies threw flowers at the Anzacs as they passed a group of [nursing] sisters outside the Charing Cross Hospital. 

All the colonials were of fine physique, and attracted universal attention. The New Zealanders, headed by their magnificent St. Bernard mascot and the Maoris, especially received a warm greeting.”(1)

(1) ANZAC DAY, The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) 27 Apr 1916, page 5.