Armistice Day in Central Sydney

Well, today is the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. Armistice day. I thought it would be nice to pay our respects at the large ANZAC Memorial at Hyde Park in the heart of Sydney.

The ANZAC Memorial was opened in 1934. It looks imposing enough from the outside but is even bigger than you think once you explore the interior. The building was designed by Australian-born Charles Bruce Dellit and is clearly Art Deco inspired. This is not the site of the Sydney cenotaph as I first thought. The cenotaph is actually in nearby Martin Place.

The ANZAC Memorial and the ‘Pool of Reflection’, just before the Armistice ceremony

Beneath the memorial building there is a museum. Similar to the much larger one in Canberra. As part of the museum there is a collection of soil from almost 1,700 locations around Australia. The War Memorial Soil Collection Program set out to collect soil from every location around Australia where there was an enlistee in WWI. Part of the four sided display is shown below.

Part of the Soil Collection walls beneath the ANZAC Memorial

11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month…

Initially the 11th of the 11th was meant to be in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price in the First World War (WW1). Nowadays, as the clock strikes the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, people stand in silence to honour the fallen from all wars.

The 11th hour on this day marks the end of the final battles and hostilities (that were only still ongoing on at the “western front”) of WW1. I found out at today’s service that in Australia, everyone thought World War 1 had ended on the 8th of November and a large party ensued. Then, three days later they got the news that it really had ended. The party got a immediate reboot and the celebrations rolled on…

The Hall of Silence with the sculpture “Sacrifice” located at its centre
Several views of the ANZAC Memorial, Sydney CBD
Two references to Palestine (as places where ANZACs served). Plus The Eternal Flame and inside view

Interesting to note that despite what has been going on recently in Europe and America – and also here in Australia to a lesser extent – with pro Palestinian protests, there was no sign of anything like that on this special day in central Sydney. Nor was there any sign of the police. In fact the police were conspicuous in their absence. However, I am sure the news will show a different story from other parts of the world later today/tomorrow. Crazy times (again!)…

The Star Ceremony

After the remembrance service the staff hand out golden stars with the names of ANZACs who gave their lives in the various wars. People in attendance are invited to take a star and pause to reflect on the name on the star before throwing it into the Hall of Silence. Notice all the stars on the Hall floor…

The Star Ceremony (see main text)

The Big Bullets

Not exactly on the official list of The ‘Bigs’ of Australia but does appear on some such lists if you look into it.

This larger than life artwork is the work of Aboriginal artist Tony Albert whose family has many years of military service. He created the dramatic structures to honour the sacrifices and bravery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women. One of the horizontal ‘bullets’ has an inscription on the ‘bullet’ base (see photos).

The Big Bullets, also in Hyde Park

The sculpture work is inspired by his grandfather’s story about himself and 6 soldiers who escaped from a prisoner of war camp in Germany, only to be caught by Italian soldiers who lined them up to be shot. The Italians shot 3 of the men before realising their mistake. The men were POWs and should have been returned to Germany. Hence: 4 standing bullets (at 7-metres tall), to represent those who survived and 3 fallen shells in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price. It is a fitting work of art so close to the ANZAC Memorial.

Big Bullets and ANZAC Memorial

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