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Beginnings

On the 25 April 1916, one year to the day that Australians troops splashed ashore at the Gallipoli Peninsula, 6434 servicemen paraded through the streets of Brisbane before 50,000 onlookers.

This was the first instance of what would soon become an annual national ritual of observance - Anzac Day.

The origin of Anzac Day is a uniquely Queensland story. Following the suggestion from Brisbane land agent T.A. Ryan to chairman of the State Recruiting Committee, Colonel A.J. Thynne , a committee was formed in February 1916 to explore ways to publicly commemorate the almost 8 000 soldiers who had died in the failed campaign.

Exhibition Building to Concert Hall to Museum to Queensland Youth Orchestra to ??

Exhibition Building to Concert Hall to Museum to Queensland Youth Orchestra
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Acc: 86-8-4
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The committee

The committee comprised leading establishment figures, including the Premier T.J. Ryan, The Minister for Education, The Mayor of Brisbane, and Canon David John Garland, an active member of the Queensland Recruiting Committee, who was appointed Secretary.

The Hon. T.J. Ryan, Premier of Queensland, 1915-1919

Chair
The Hon. T.J. Ryan
Premier of Queensland, 1915-1919
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Canon David John Garland, First honorary secretary of the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland (ADCCQ)

Honorable Secretary
Canon David John Garland
First honorary secretary of the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland (ADCCQ)
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Significant documents

Cover of programme for Anzac Day 25th April, 1916

Anzac Day 25th April, 1916 [programme]

A. J. Cumming, Government Printer

  • Brisbane, Qld. : A. J. Cumming, Government Printer,1916
  • John Oxley Library, SLQ
  • RBJ 940.426 ANZ
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Queensland Recruiting Committee, Meeting resolutions, Monday 10th January, 1916

Meeting resolutions, Monday 10th January, 1916

Queensland Recruiting Committee

  • Part of: OM71-41 Queensland Recruiting Committee Records 1914-1918
  • John Oxley Library, SLQ
  • Acc: OM71-41 / Item no. OM71-41/203
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Draft Plan of Observance for the first Anzac Day in 1916

Draft plan of observance of Anzac Day, Tuesday 25th April, 1916

Queensland Recruiting Committee

  • Part of: OM71-41 Queensland Recruiting Committee Records 1914-1918
  • John Oxley Library, SLQ
  • Acc: OM71-41 / Item no. OM71-41/220
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David John Garland, Letter to Reverend William Maitland Woods, 1st March 1916

Letter to Reverend William Maitland Woods, 1st March 1916

David John Garland

  • Part of: OM74-101 Maitland Woods Papers 1915-1916
  • John Oxley Library, SLQ
  • Acc: OM74-101 / Item no. OM74-101/19
  • Letter from Canon David Garland in Brisbane, to Reverend William Maitland Woods in Egypt, discussing his work to establish Anzac Day in Queensland.
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David John Garland, Letter to Reverend William Maitland Woods, 6th March 1916

Letter to Reverend William Maitland Woods, 6th March 1916

David John Garland

  • Part of: OM74-101 Maitland Woods Papers 1915-1916
  • John Oxley Library, SLQ
  • Acc: OM74-101 / Item no. OM74-101/19
  • Letter from Canon David Garland in Brisbane, to Reverend William Maitland Woods in Egypt, discussing his work to establish Anzac Day in Queensland.
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Anzac Day Commemoration Committee, Minutes and suggestions 1916-1922

Minutes and suggestions 1916-1922

Anzac Day Commemoration Committee

    Part of: OMHA ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee Records 1916-1974 John Oxley Library, SLQ Acc: OMHA< Minutes of the first Anzac Day Commemorative Committee meeting, chaired by Premier T.J. Ryan and held in his office on 3rd February, 1916.
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The 1st processions

Anzac Day procession through the streets of Brisbane, 1916

Photographer unknown
Anzac Day procession through the streets of Brisbane, 1916
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Acc: D9-2-83 / Negative no: 39805
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There was also an underlying need to reassure the public that Australian losses had not been in vain, despite the failure of the Gallipoli campaign.

The committee was also concerned that there should be no sense of triumph or jubilation, and were careful to try and divorce the first Anzac Day from the many fund-raising, recruitment and other patriotic activities then being undertaken across the state.

Premier Ryan also urged the other Australian states to enact a similar parade, and soon the date became a national day of reflection. By then, Australian troops were fighting and dying in France and the Middle East, and the losses incurred on both these fronts soon dwarfed the original toll at Gallipoli.

First Anzac Day Procession, Yuleba, 1916

Photographer unknown
Schoolchildren taking part in an Anzac Day procession in Yuleba, 1916
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Acc: 80-10-28 / Negative no: 20684
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Digital Stories

Origins of Anzac Day in Queensland

An examination of the role and experiences of Queensland chaplains during the First World War, with particular reference to three Anglican chaplains – The Reverend William Maitland Woods, The Reverend George Green and Canon David John Garland, whose papers are held in the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Chaplains were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the soldiers, and alongside the more gruesome task of burying the dead, they provided important pastoral care and emotional support to their comrades.

Origins of Anzac Day in Queensland digital story, 2015 from State Library of Queensland on Vimeo.

Queensland chaplains during the First World War

Anzac Day is our national day of remembrance, an opportunity to commemorate those Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in conflict. This digital story examines the key part which Queensland played in the development of this national day. The Queensland Anzac Day Commemoration Committee was formed in early 1916, and its deliberations instituted elements such as the parade of troops, the minute's silence, and the Last Post, which are still observed today. In particular, the efforts of honorary secretary Canon David John Garland, ensured that Anzac Day remained a solemn, community commemoration of wartime sacrifice, rather than a celebration.

Queensland chaplains during the First World War digital story, 2015, John Oxley Library, Acc: 29355/18 from State Library of Queensland on Vimeo.

Reflection

While the original intention of the Anzac Day committee was to honour those who fell in Australia’s first major military engagement of World War One, subsequent events soon broadened its scope and meaning, eventually culminating in the current Anzac Day commemorations with which most Queenslanders are familiar.

Detail from Anzac Day 25th April, 1916 programme

Detail from Anzac Day 25th April, 1916 [programme]
Brisbane, Qld. : A. J. Cumming, Government Printer,1916
John Oxley Library, SLQ
RBJ 940.426 ANZ
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First Anzac Day Procession, Mt Morgan

Photographer unknown
Anzac Day parade on Dee Street, Mt. Morgan, 1916
John Oxley Library, SLQ
Acc: 80-9-22 / Negative no: 14818
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Detail from Anzac Day 25th April, 1916 [programme]
Brisbane, Qld. : A. J. Cumming, Government Printer,1916
John Oxley Library, SLQ
RBJ 940.426 ANZ
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Further resources