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Islanders gather for Anzac Day commemoration

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THE contribution made to Island life by Australians and New Zealanders who live in Jersey was acknowledged by the Bailiff this week on one of the most important fixtures in both countries’ calendars.

The memorial service was held at the Cenotaph. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (21283334)

Sir William Bailhache spoke at a breakfast reception at the Town Hall after leading the Island’s Anzac Day commemorations on Wednesday, held to remember the Australians and New Zealanders who have fought for their countries since 1915.

He told the gathering, which was hosted by St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft – whose Australian grandfather fought in the First World War – that Jersey was made up of divergent communities such as the Portuguese, Irish and Polish, who were all essential to Island life.

Sir William said: ‘I am really pleased to be able to come here today to say that the Australian and New Zealand communities are part of our community and they make a very important contribution.’

More than 60 Islanders gathered at the Cenotaph in the Parade from 5.30 am for Jersey’s third Anzac Day Dawn Ceremony. They were among millions of people around the world who marked the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces (Anzacs) during the First World War. Ceremonies are held at dawn on 25 April, the time when the Anzacs landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.

It was the first time they had fought under their own flag and command and the experience influences their respective national identities to this day. They also fought in the Middle East, France and Belgium.

More than 60,000 Australian and over 18,000 New Zealand lives were lost in the Great War.

Speaking at the Cenotaph, event organiser John Davis said: ‘While we remember these men, we also remember the thousands of Australian and New Zealand women who left their families to contribute to the war effort in equally difficult conditions.

‘We are gathered at this dawn service to acknowledge all current and former members of our armed defence forces and support services – the brave men and women who represent our countries on a daily basis.’

Group Captain Antony Martin, of the Royal Australian Air Force, and Lieutenant Marc Griffiths of the Royal New Zealand Navy, travelled to the Island to represent their countries and lay wreaths at the Island’s war memorial alongside those laid by the Bailiff, Chief Minister Ian Gorst, Royal British Legion, Gurkha Welfare Trust and the Royal Commonwealth Society. Lieutenant Griffiths said: ‘It was interesting to see that ceremonies are not just held in the major cities and towns in the UK, but that there are also smaller ceremonies like this one going on around the country.’

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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