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Significance of Anzac Day

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as ANZACs.

In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany during the war. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied casualties included 21,255 from the United Kingdom, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India.

News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Domain Gates

About the War Memorial Gates

Planning for the War Memorial Gates at Tauranga Domain began in 1915, making them one of New Zealand’s first proposed memorials. They were opened on 11 December 1921 to commemorate the fallen. At the opening ceremony a sprig of rosemary, the symbol of remembrance, was held against each soldier’s name. 

The war memorial gates were the idea of Colonel G A Ward. In 1915, he wrote: “There they will always be, in the public eye. All ages, classes and creeds make that place their meeting ground for sports, social gatherings and demonstrations. The young, particularly so, and these lost it is most desirable and fitting should never be allowed to forget the grand example set by those we propose to commemorate.”

Last Reviewed: 11/08/2016