The RSL ANZAC Art Awards

The RSL NSW developed the ANZAC Art Project for all schools in New South Wales back in the 1970s to encourage all school children to research, learn and appreciate the historical and cultural significance of Australia’s traditional links to ANZAC DAY and the Gallipoli landing by the AIF in 1915 and with Australia’s engagement in the resulting military conflicts since that date.
The Teachers sub-Branch was formed on 2nd of April 1944 and consisted of teachers and education officers who had returned from or were still involved on active service in the armed forces defending Australia at that time.

Teachers sub-Branch President Cecil Rubie BEM MA (Syd) working at Head Office at 35 Bridge Street Sydney and an ex-serviceman from WWll was a strong supporter of this program and promoted the Art project through all state schools in 1970s. The project grew in size until more than 3,000 large artworks were being received each year, making it very difficult to manage and mark the entries. Subsequent presidents of the sub-Branch continued to work with the RSL Head Office staff on this Art project. Members of the sub-Branch acted as the markers, judges and assessors of the art works submitted by schools each year.

President Geoffrey Falkenmire OAM with his strong educational background introduced the Essay and then the Poetry Section into the ANZAC Art Award project in about 1995. The project continued to grow in significance with most RSL sub-Branches encouraging their local primary and secondary school to participate. Some sub-Branches were outstanding in their support Balgowlah, Forestville, Brighton Le Sands with their schools taking out many of the top prizes each year.
The Teachers sub-Branch also strongly supported the Schools Cadet program, the RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC Service at the Hyde Park Memorials each year.
With the changing use of social media, President Patrick Medway AM has been involved in a careful review of the Art Project as a member of the RSL ANZAC Art Council over the past two years.

A new and more relevant format has been developed in 2012 to reach all primary and secondary schools (government and non-government) throughout New South Wales.  All schools and students now have easy access to the RSL ANZAC Art Awards and are able to forward their initial art entries by electronic medium.

Guidelines, terms and conditions have been developed to engage with all NSW schools in the ANZAC Art Award Project. Prizes and awards have been established to recognize outstanding students and their artworks to commemorate the traditions of ANZAC each year. As well as individual prizes a category for the school with the highest scoring five artworks was established.

This 2012 competition rewards the highest scoring 30 entries to become inaugural ‘ANZAC Art collection’ aimed with an annual exhibition.

The theme for the secondary students of 2012 was ‘The Poppy’ with primary students to colour one of 10 possible characters as a colouring competition.



The ANZAC Acronym

ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the formation into which Australian and New Zealand soldiers were grouped in Egypt prior to the landing at Gallipoli in April 1915.

First written as A. & N. Z. Army Corps, it soon became A. N. Z. A. C. and the new word was so obvious that the full stops were omitted. The word was initially used to refer to the cove where the Australians and New Zealanders landed and soon after, to the men themselves. An ANZAC was a man who was at the Landing and who fought at Gallipoli, but later it came to mean any Australian or New Zealand soldier of the First World War. An ANZAC who served at Gallipoli was given an A badge which was attached to his colour patch.


What is ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

What does ANZAC stand for?

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

Early commemorations

The 25th of April was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916. It was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia, a march through London, and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt. In London over 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets. A London newspaper headline dubbed them “the knights of Gallipoli”. Marches were held all over Australia; in the Sydney march, convoys of cars carried wounded soldiers from Gallipoli attended by nurses. For the remaining years of the war, ANZAC Day was used as an occasion for patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns, and parades of serving members of the AIF were held in most cities.

During the 1920s ANZAC Day became established as a national day of commemoration for the 60,000 Australians who had died during the war. In 1927, for the first time every state observed some form of public holiday on ANZAC Day. By the mid-1930s, all the rituals we now associate with the day – dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, twoup games – were firmly established as part of ANZAC Day culture.

With the coming of the Second World War, ANZAC Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. In subsequent years the meaning of the day has been further broadened to include Australians killed in all the military operations in which Australia has been involved.

ANZAC Day was first commemorated at the Memorial in 1942. There were government orders prohibiting large public gatherings in case of a Japanese air attack, so it was a small occasion, with neither a march nor a memorial service. Since then, ANZAC Day has been commemorated at the Memorial every year.

What does it mean today?

Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national remembrance, which takes two forms. Commemorative services are held at dawn – the time of the original landing – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are more formal and are held at war memorials around the country. In these ways, ANZAC Day is a time when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.

The Dawn Service

The Dawn Service observed on ANZAC Day has its origins in a military routine which is still followed by the Australian Army today. During battle, the halflight of dawn was one of the most 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; this is still known as the “stand-to”. As dusk is equally favourable for attacks, the stand-to was repeated at sunset.

After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn vigil, recalling the wartime front line practice of the dawn ‘stand-to’, became the basis of a form of commemoration in several places after the war.

There are claims that a dawn requiem mass was held at Albany on 25 April 1918, and a wreath laying and commemoration took place at dawn in Toowoomba the following year. In 1927 a group of returned men, returning from an ANZAC function held the night before, came upon an elderly woman laying flowers at the as yet unfinished Sydney Cenotaph. Joining her in this private remembrance, the men later resolved to institute a dawn service the following year. Thus in 1928 150 people gathered at the Cenotaph to for a wreath laying and two minutes silence. This is generally regarded as the beginning of organised dawn services. Over the years the ceremonies have developed into their modern form and also seen an increased association with the dawn landings on 25 April 1915.

Today dawn services include the presence of a chaplain, but not the presence of dignitaries such as the governor general. They were originally very simple and followed the military routine. In many cases, attendance at the dawn service was restricted to veterans, while the daytime ceremony was for families and other well-wishers. Before dawn, the gathered veterans would be ordered to “stand to” and two minutes’ silence would follow. At the end of this time a lone bugler would play the Last Post and then conclude the service with Reveille, the bugler’s call to wake up. In more recent times families and young people have been encouraged to take part in dawn services, and services in Australian capital cities have seen some of the largest turnouts ever. Reflecting this change, those services have become more elaborate, incorporating hymns, readings, pipers, and rifle volleys. Other services, though, have retained the simple format of the dawn standto, familiar to so many soldiers.

The ANZAC Day Ceremony

At the Australian War Memorial, the ceremony takes place at 10.15 am in the presence of people such as the prime minister and the governor general. Each year the ceremony follows a pattern that is familiar to generations of Australians. A typical ANZAC Day ceremony may include the following features: an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, a recitation, the Last Post, a period of silence, either the Rouse or the Reveille, and the national anthem. After the Memorial’s ceremony, families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour, as they also do after Remembrance Day

General William Riddell Birdwood, General Officer Commanding, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS), near Hill 60 in October, 1915. Following the allied withdrawal from Gallipoli and the expansion of Australian and New Zealand forces in Egypt early in 1916, the ANZAC was split into two new formations called I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps – despite the repetition of the word Corps in their name. These formations, I ANZAC Corps comprising three Australian divisions and II ANZAC Corps made up of the 4th and 5th Australian divisions and the New Zealand Division, were transferred to France and fought on the Western Front until 1917, when the five Australian formations were grouped into a single Australian Corps. Also in March 1916, the ANZAC Mounted Division was formed from three Australian Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade for service in Sinai and Palestine. In 1916 – 1917 a joint signals unit, the 1st (ANZAC) Wireless Signal Squadron, operated with the British expeditionary force in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In the Second World War, a new ANZAC was formed during the short Greek campaign of April 1941 when the 6th Australian Division and the New Zealand Division were joined under command of the headquarters of I Australian Corps (redesignated as ANZAC Corps).

Proposals for the formation of an 'ANZAC' Brigade during the Korean War came to nothing, but in the Vietnam conflict New Zealand infantry companies were attached to Australian battalions which were then designated as ANZAC battalions.



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What can I win?

Our winners in each category will receive certificates, cash prizes, inclusion in the prestigious ANZAC exhibition.

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