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ANZAC Day

IN THEIR HONOUR

25 APRIL 2023

The courage, endurance and sacrifice of the ANZACs in Gallipoli has left a powerful legacy, turning the 25th of April into a day of remembrance for years to come. Today, we honour the legacy of our ANZACs and acknowledge the continued sacrifices made by our contemporary veterans.

Australia’s contemporary veterans and their families face significant struggles throughout and following their service. This year, Soldier On honours our Nation’s service men and women and works to support the veteran community through our annual appeal in the lead-up to ANZAC Day.

Donate to our annual appeal to support our service serving and ex-serving members and their families.

Read their stories

The ANZAC legend was born on 25 April 1915 when Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the shores of Gallipoli.

Under relentless fire, the ANZACs embodied the themes of courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice.

Learn more about the ANZAC spirit through our veteran stories.

School resources

More than 100 years on from Australia’s involvement in the First World War, ANZAC Day remains an important day to honour and remember those who have served and continue to serve our nation.

Soldier On has created activities and educational pieces for students to learn about our nation’s servicemen and women and honour the sacrifices they continue to make.

Click any of the links to download ANZAC resources and activities.

Lest we forget

Major General Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott

15th Brigade

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions during the South African War, Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott commanded the 7th Battalion in the fighting on Gallipoli, and then the 15th Brigade on the Western Front. Devoted to his troops and always concerned for them, he watched as his beloved brigade was virtually annihilated in the disastrous attack at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. In the hours afterwards, he was seen greeting the brigade’s survivors with tears streaming down his face. Elliott continued to command the brigade throughout the battles of 1917 and 1918, culminating in the counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 1918, and the battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. Elliott was a head-strong character and constantly confronted his superiors; his forcefulness was often unwise, and his claims sometimes foolhardy.

Arriving home in early 1919, Elliot returned to his pre-war occupation as a lawyer. A year later, he was elected to the Senate as a representative of Victoria, and was re-elected in 1925, and sought to bring greater awareness to veteran issues. However, Elliot often spoke bitterly about those he blamed for withholding his higher promotion. He was promoted to major general in 1927 in command of a militia division, but for him this was too little too late. Obsessed with this sense of injustice, and feeling the strain of war service, politics, and business, his health broke down. Elliot ended his life in March 1931.

Prepared by Drs Aaron Pegram, Meleah Hampton and Lachlan Grant,
Military History Section, Australian War Memorial, 28 March 2019.

 

Private Thomas Marsh

51st Battalion

Marsh was born in England and emigrated to Australia just before the First World War.

Enlisting from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, he saw service on the Western Front with the 51st Battalion. Marsh was captured in his first action at Mouquet Farm in August 1916, and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Germany.

He survived captivity and the war, and returned home to Australia in April 1919.

Less than four weeks after his return home, Marsh took his own life in a suburban street in Fremantle.

Major General Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott

15th Brigade

An Irish-born immigrant to Australia, O’Meara served on the Western Front and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Pozières in August 1916.

O’Meara was acting as a stretcher bearer when he performed the actions which won him the VC, saving the lives of over twenty-five wounded men by carrying them in from the battlefield.

One officer described O’Meara as “the most fearless and gallant soldier I have ever seen”. He was wounded on three separate occasions during his time in France, and upon returning to Australia, was hospitalised with influenza.

While in quarantine, O’Meara suffered a catastrophic mental collapse owing to his war experiences. He was placed into care at Claremont Mental Hospital in Perth, but was plagued by voices and hallucinations until his death in December 1935.

Private Horace Joseph Buckley

32nd Battalion

Born in Kyneton, Victoria, Joseph enlisted in late 1915. Almost immediately, he went absent without leave, and a warrant for his arrest had him returned to camp.

He eventually embarked for active service in 1917, but continued to struggle with military discipline, with his service record detailing multiple instances of insubordination, drunkenness and absence without leave.

While awaiting repatriation to Australia after the war, Buckley was charged with begging on the streets of London in 1919.

On his return to Australia, he continued to struggle with alcohol, leading to repeated spells at the Lara Inebriate Retreat near Geelong. He died in Sydney in 1940.

Prepared by Drs Aaron Pegram, Meleah Hampton and Lachlan Grant, Military History Section, Australian War Memorial, 28 March 2019.

Private Douglas Grant

13th Battalion

Private Douglas Grant, 13th Battalion, was born into a traditional Aboriginal community in the Bullenden Kerr Ranges, Northern Queensland, in the early 1880s. In 1887 his parents and much of his Aboriginal community were believed to have been killed by Native Police during frontier violence in Queensland. Grant was adopted by a white family. He enlisted in 1916 and with the intervention of his foster father, was accepted for active service overseas. He was wounded and captured by the Germans at Bullecourt in 1917 and remained a prisoner for the duration of the war.

After his capture, Douglas spent two months in France with the other Bullecourt prisoners, who were used as forced labourers for the German Army. Owing to his dark complexion, Douglas ended up at the German camp for Muslim prisoners at Zossen in the German state of Brandenburg, where he supervised the distribution of comforts to Indian prisoners as a member of the British Help Committee.

Douglas’ role in distributing comforts was an extremely important one. Not only did the parcels lift the men’s spirits with much-needed essentials, but the system also provided the opportunity to accurately record who had been taken prisoner and where they were held. This vital information could make a huge difference for families at home in Australia who were waiting for news of their “missing”.

A highly educated man, Douglas returned to a society that was ruled by the White Australia Policy, and he struggled to find work during the Depression. He was hospitalised with severe depression at least once, and never found steady work or a wife or family. He did not receive benefits such as the Soldier Settler Scheme, and was subjected to racial discrimination because of his heritage. He struggled with alcoholism but continued to be an active member of various soldiers’ associations, and was politically active in arguing for rights for Indigenous men and for returned soldiers. He died at the war veteran’s home in La Perouse in 1951.

Prepared by Drs Aaron Pegram, Meleah Hampton and Lachlan Grant, Military History Section, Australian War Memorial, 28 March 2019.

Paul

Paul was 24 years old when he joined the Army. He always felt a duty to serve our great country and like many soldiers before, the promise of adventure and lifelong mates was what he wanted.

Soldier On has helped him reintegrate into the community socially through activities and meeting other veterans and their families. He has participated in many of Soldier On’s Social Connections Programs including: go-karting; kayaking; cooking classes; iFly; and many more, saying that “these have been great fun and a great opportunity to meet new people”.

This ANZAC Day, Paul will be marching for Fallen friends and those who never came back. For Paul, the services provided by Soldier On are vital to the Australian community, not just for veterans who need to be reintegrated into our society, but for what a veteran can bring when returning to the community. “Soldier On opens up this opportunity,” he added.

Andi

Andi was 20 years old when she joined the Army. Before embarking on her Defence career, she had finished school and was doing a government course in film production. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of her cousin, who was serving in the Navy and had just moved to the Army, and her uncles who had also served, Andi served for just over eight years.

Since finding out about Soldier On, Andi has said, “I don’t tend to meet and speak to new people very much. Getting out and engaging with others who have served has been amazing.”

Services like those Soldier On provides are so important to keep the veteran community close. It’s so important to be around like-minded people, to have people close by that have the same experiences. “We all joined for a reason, and this is what makes us different from others. So, staying close to those who served is important.”  

After leaving the Army, Andi didn’t feel comfortable going to marches or the RSL – it took a long time for her to be able to do that. With the help of Soldier On and other veteran organisations she says, “I have been able to go out and spend ANZAC Day with my military mates and form new friendships along the way”. This ANZAC Day she’ll be honouring all those who didn’t make it back home and those who have suffered and continue to suffer from injuries or mental health challenges.