ANZAC Day Celebrations in Sydney 1920 – General Birdwood Takes the Salute

First published in the Sydney Mail, Wednesday 28 April 1920.

The presence in Sydney of “The Soul of Anzac” made this year’s commemoration of Anzac Day the most memorable yet held. Although the weather was unpropitious thousands of people turned out on Sunday to take part in the various celebrations, while returned soldiers rallied in strong force in the parade behind their great leader. It was on a Sunday that the historic landing was made on the shell-swept shores of Gallipoli; it was doubly appropriate, therefore, that this year’s anniversary should fall on first day of the week and that the men should be led through the city by the distinguished officer with whom they passed through those awful days of 1915 and many subsequent days of trial and tribulation — and victory.

Watching the March Past, Macquarie-street, Sydney 1920

Among the crowd were many mothers who wore the badge of sacrifice, many widows, and many fatherless children. For them the great parade brought back only memories of sad, sad days, the days when their own dear ones marched out never to return. For many such, it was apparent, the time of mourning has not yet passed; but the mellowing influence of years will gradually change the day of sad memories to the day of rejoicing in the glorious achievements of our men. 

ANZAC Day, The Domain, Sydney, 1920

Chaplain Green, who conducted the service, speaking from the centre of the hollow-square, said: “Anzac stands above everything else, for self-sacrifice and for heroic service. Before this war we in Australia were a sheltered people. We had a flag, but we never had to fight for it. On the flag there was a cross, but as a people we had never carried a cross. Five years ago to-day we were called upon to bear our share of the responsibilities of the Empire. How well our men acquitted themselves we all know. The high qualities shown by those who fell; at Gallipoli are the very qualities that are needed to help us in these days of peace, for conflict is not yet over.” 

ANZAC Day, Queen’s Square, Sydney, 1920

Long before the soldiers reached the saluting-base thousands of people had gathered in the vicinity, and, despite the fact that a steady drizzle set in early in the proceedings, most of them remained until the parade had passed, then fell in behind and marched to the Domain, where, under a sea of umbrellas, they took part in the memorial service. Earlier in the day many of them had taken part in pilgrimages to the graves of soldiers in different cemeteries.

Australian Flying Corps, ANZAC Day, Sydney, 1920

They formed only a small section of the parade, but occupied a place of honour between the naval detachment and the mounted divisions. At Gallipoli itself there were no Australian airmen; indeed, it was only after the close of the campaign on the Peninsula that the Australian Flying Corps came into being, many of the recruits for the “new arm” being selected from those who had been through the “nine months’ peril.”

General Birdwood taking the Salute, Queen’s Square, Sydney, 1920

The famous General rode at the head of the troops from the rendezvous at Hay-street to Queen’s-square. There he stopped to take the salute. When the great body of men had marched past he rejoined them, and later participated with them in the church service in the Domain. Behind the General at the saluting-base were Brigadier-General H. G. Bennnett, Brigadier-General E. F. Martin, and Commander Allison. In the stand, a corner of which is seen in the picture, were a number of wounded soldiers and veterans and a group of nursing sisters.

Mounted Division, ANZAC Day, Sydney 1920

All arms of the services were included, and they marched in the following order:— Naval Detachment, Flying Corps, Mounted Divisions, under Major-General Sir G. de L. Ryrie, Australian Corps Headquarters Troops, New Zealanders, 1st Australian Division under Brigadier-General J. Heane, 2nd Australian Division under Brigadier-General O. F. Phillips, 3rd Australian Division under Brigadier-General H. A. Goddard, 4th Australian Division under Brigadier-General S. C. E. Herring, 5th Australian Division under Brigadier-General S. E. Christian. 

There were few of the original heroes of Galiipoli in Sunday’s procession; few of them, indeed, remain to share in the glorious memories of that wonderful April morning when they carried Australia’s name to fame and founded a glorious tradition upon which the future of the Commonwealth must stand. There was nothing of jubilation about the services. They were unobtrusively quiet, and their keynote was that of tribute to the memory of the fallen, not only to those who fell on Galiipoli , but to those 60,000 sons of Australia who gave their lives in the great cause. Anzac will always live as the symbol of their sacrifice.

Source: ANZAC Day Celebrations in Sydney: General Birdwood Takes the Salute (1920, April 28). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 – 1938), p. 18.

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