“ANZAC” was the name given to a combined force of First Australian Imperial Force and New Zealand Army troops who landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at around dawn on Sunday, the 25th day of April, 1915, barely nine months after the outbreak of World War I.
Galvanised by the example of courage and sacrifice demonstrated on that bloody battlefield, on the 10th day of January 1916 a public meeting of Brisbane citizens voted unanimously to establish the ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee to lay the groundwork for a solemn day of public remembrance on the first anniversary of the landings.
On every 25th day of April for the past 100 years, “ANZAC Day” has been observed in Australia and New Zealand, becoming an honoured and sacred institution along the way. Anzac Day has been officially observed in London since 1916, when King George V and Queen Mary attended the first commemorative service at the Abbey Between 1915 and 1920, 27,000 patients passed through the New Zealand military hospital in Walton. The hospital was based at Mount Felix in New Zealand Avenue, a large mansion set within 18-acre grounds by the River Thames. When the war started, it was commandeered by the War Commission and the building was used to accommodate British soldiers.
By 1915, it was offered to the New Zealand War Contingent Association as a military hospital. In August that year, the hospital was officially opened by the New Zealand High Commissioner, Sir Thomas MacKenzie. And as the war continued, more pressure on the services in Walton led to another hospital being created in Brockenhurst, leaving the hospital as ‘No 2 New Zealand General Hospital’.They later expanded to use Oatlands Park, now a hotel, as a secondary unit.
At its peak, it had as many as 2,000 beds. The chief medical officer was a New Zealander and three-quarters of the staff had connections with the country. The first wounded soldiers there would have been from the Gallipoli campaign, which ended in December 1915 with evacuation.
The Anzacs – Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – then went on to northern France and Flanders, where they fought with great distinction until the war ended in November 1918.Twenty-one people from New Zealand who died in the military hospital are buried at St Mary’s Church in Walton, and a plaque inside bears their names.A service is held each year to mark Anzac Day at St Mary’s Church. This years’ service will be on Sunday 23rd April What happens in on the day:
ANZAC Service at St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2QS
Refreshments will be served in the church hall.
All Day Sunday
The amazing Mount Felix Tapestry, which many people have spent thousands of hours working on, will be on display at the Riverhouse Barn, Manor Rd, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PFThe tapestry depicts some of the inspirational stories of 27,000 New Zealand soldiers, wounded in WW1, who passed through the doors of the Mount Felix Hospital, here in Walton-on-Thames. Find out the story behind place names such as New Zealand Avenue and Adelaide Road. If you can’t make it on the day, the tapestry is on display from April 12-May 14.