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ANZAC Day Dawn Service

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A tradition was born

Western Australia's link to the Dawn Service is a special one, for it was in Albany, Western Australia, that the tradition of the Dawn Service was born.  It was from Albany that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) departed for Egypt and then Turkey in 1914.

On 25 April 1923, the Reverend White led a party of friends in what was the first ever observance of a Dawn parade on ANZAC Day, thus establishing a tradition which has endured, Australia-wide, ever since.

'Albany', Reverend White is quoted to have said, 'was the last sight of land these ANZAC troops saw after leaving Australian shores and some of them never returned.  We should hold a service here at the first light of dawn each ANZAC Day to commemorate them.'

'As the sun rises and goeth down, we will remember them'.  All present were deeply moved and news of the ceremony soon spread throughout the country; and various returned service communities Australia-wide emulated the ceremony.

During battle, dawn was one of the favoured times for an attack.  Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons.  As dusk is equally favourable for attacks, the stand-to was repeated at sunset.

After World War I, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn.  Dawn services were originally very simple and followed the operational ritual; in many cases they were restricted to veterans only.

Today, families and young people are encouraged to take part in Dawn Services held across the State.

To find out more about the history of the Dawn Service visit the Australian War Memorial website.

Order of Service

The conduct of the ANZAC Day Dawn Service comprises:

  • Arrival of the official wreath layers at the Memorial
  • The sounding of the 'Still' - 6.00am
  • Laying of official wreaths
  • 'Last Post'
  • 'Silence'
  • 'Reveille'
  • 'Ode'

The reciting of the 'Ode' signifies the completion of the protocols of the Dawn Service.

The Last Post

The Last Post signifies the end of the day.

This bugle call has been passed down through the centuries in many parts of the world as an accompaniment to the rites of a soldier's farewell – the closing bars wail out their sad valediction to the departing warrior.

Reveille

On ANZAC Day, 'Reveille' or 'Rouse' breaks the silence that follows the playing of the Last Post, symbolising the awakening of the dead in the next and better world.

The Ode of Remembrance

"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."

(Audience responds)
"We will remember them."

For more information regarding the Dawn Service at the State War Memorial and services in your local area, visit the Returned and Services League website.