Australians, New Zealanders mark ANZAC day in Poland

Australians, New Zealanders mark ANZAC day in Poland

Every year on 25 April the Embassies of Australia and New Zealand, with support from the Warsaw Garrison hold an ANZAC Day Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

This year Australians and New Zealanders in Warsaw were joined by HE the Ambassador of Turkey, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Deputy Mayor of the City of Warsaw, Members of the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, distinguished members of the Polish Defence Forces and War Veterans, and representatives of the Polish Government. During the celebrations, the Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors to Poland highlighted Poland and their respective shared military history and current ties. 

The Australian Ambassador, HE Paul Wojciechowski said that “ It is also the day on which we pay tribute to our friends and allies.  We reflect on our close relationship with Turkey – our friend and former foe – and the bond we had forged on the battlefield of Gallipoli.

We reflect on the friendship and hospitality of our host countries at services like this one around the world.  Here in Warsaw we reflect on the bond and mutual respect between us and the Polish troops developed through joint military service.  From the defence of Tobruk, across the Polish skies resupplying the Warsaw Uprising or more recently facing up to the Taliban in Afghanistan. We reflect on our allies past and present. Those who have perished and suffered injury, and those who perform their brave duty today protecting democracy, liberty and fighting terrorism. This service is for all them.

In Australia, where our democracy is secure, where people are safe and generally not wanting and where, as a result of our economic strength, we are able to – we are proud to provide comfort and dignity to those in genuine need.

Let’s remind ourselves of this need for charity, compassion and service, and teach it to future generations. Today my young daughter is attending her very first Anzac Day. It is an occasion as meaningful for me as I hope one day it will become for her.”

The New Zealand Ambassador, HE Wendy Hinton said that  “A legacy of our participation is the strength of bonds we have forged with other nations – both friend and foe. 

It was at Gallipoli in April 1915 that a new respect developed between Australian and New Zealand troops.  Australian historian Charles Bean, referring to the first few days of the campaign, observed: ‘Three days of genuine trial had established a friendship which centuries will not destroy.’ Arising also from this disastrous campaign were enduring bonds with Turkey.
As New Zealanders and Australians, we are fortunate to live in a time of relative peace. However, on ANZAC Day in New Zealand we take a moment to remember that many people who have made a new home among us have had first-hand experience of war and conflict. These people include the 734 Polish refugee children who came to New Zealand in 1944.  

In the 21st century, Anzac Day is appropriately a time for all New Zealanders to come together, regardless of their age or background, to reflect on the impact of conflict on our communities and to affirm the civic traditions which we hold dear, along with our strong hope for peace between nations.”

This year marks 101 years since Australian troops landed on the shores of Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. More than 8,700 lost their lives during the campaign, and more than 2,000 were killed or wounded on the first day of fighting. The Centenary of Anzac 2014 to 2018 is Australia’s most important period of national commemoration. Marking 100 years since Australia’s and New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War, the Anzac Centenary is a time to honour the service and sacrifice of our original ANZACs, and the generations of Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women who have defended our values and freedoms, in wars, conflicts and peace operations throughout a Century of Service. 
After the ceremony, invited guests attended a lunch at the Australian Embassy, where Australian and New Zealand specialities were served.

Jolanta Wolski, OAM, JP
Photos: Jolanta Wolski