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Anzac Day Handy Hints

Each year thousands of Anzac Day Services are are conducted around the world.

To assist with the running of these services and commemorative services we have prepare the following information:

Further Information

For further information, please feel free to contact the ADF Ceremonial team using this form.

Australian National Flag

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. The half-mast position will depend on the size of the flag and the length of the flagpole. The flag must be lowered to a position recognisably half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole. An acceptable position would be when the top of the flag is a third of the distance down from the top of the flagpole.

There are times when direction will be given by the Australian Government for all flags to be flown at half-mast. The Commonwealth Flag Network can notify you of these occasions by email. Flags in any locality can be flown at half-mast on the death of a local citizen or on the day, or part of the day, of their funeral. When lowering the flag from a half-mast position it should be briefly raised to the peak and then lowered ceremoniously.

In relation to Anzac Day the ANF is to be flown at half mast from sunrise until 1200 hours on Anzac Day. However, during individual Anzac Day ceremonies, the ANF is to be half masted and then raised to the peak during the playing of ‘Reveille’ at the conclusion of the service. In relation to Remembrance Day the ANF is not to be half masted until approx 1030 hours but is to be raised to the peak at 1101 or 1102 hours for the remainder of the day.

The flag should never be flown at half-mast at night even if it is illuminated. When flying the Australian National Flag with other flags, all flags in the set should be flown at half-mast. The Australian National Flag should be raised first and lowered last.

Flag order of precedence

The flag order of precedence is as follows:

  1. ANF,
  2. other nations national flags in alphabetical order, e.g. New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States,
  3. State flags (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA and TAS),
  4. Territory flags (ACT and NT),
  5. Other flags prescribed by the Flags Act 1953, e.g. Australian Aboriginal Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag,
  6. Australian Defence Force Ensign (ADFE),
  7. Australian White Ensign (AWE),
  8. Royal Australian Air Force Ensign (RAAF Ensign), and
  9. Merchant Marine.

Flying the Australian National Flag overseas

When flying the ANF overseas at Australian establishments, e.g. an ADF compound at a UN operation or at an Australian embassy, it should be flown as a single device. However, if it is decided to fly the ANF with the national flag of that particular country, the ANF is to take precedence, and is flown in the pre-eminent position followed by the host nation’s national flag in the second pre-eminent position. Other Australian flags, i.e. the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Straits Island Flag may be flown overseas during NAIDOC Week; however, these flags are to be flown subordinate to the ANF and the host nation’s national flag.

    The suggested order of march for an Anzac Day march is as follows:

  1. parade commander and formed party, (Army Ceremonial and Protocol Manual)
  2. flag party and escort,
  3. associations granted special status by the march organising authority, e.g. an association celebrating a significant anniversary,
  4. Australian World War I unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. Royal Australian Navy (RAN) then Army,
  5. Australian World War II unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. RAN, Army then Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF),
  6. Australian post-World War II unit and Australian Corps, regiment and unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. RAN, Army then RAAF,
  7. Australian peacekeeping associations,
  8. Australian Ex-Service associations, and
  9. other countries’ Service associations.

Regimental associations take priority over unit associations.

If no march is to take place prior to a service at a memorial, the Service associations form-up at the ceremony site before the arrival of the guard, band and catafalque party.

Laying of wreaths

Flowers have traditionally been laid on graves and memorials in memory of the dead. Laurel and rosemary have been associated with Anzac Day. Laurel was used as a symbol of honour, woven into a wreath by the ancient Romans to crown victors and the brave. Rosemary is commonly associated with remembrance but in recent years, the poppy formerly associated with Remembrance Day on 11 November of each year, has become very popular in wreaths used on Anzac Day.

    The suggested procedure for the laying of a wreath is as follows:

  1. the person moves-up to the memorial with the wreath in the left hand or both hands,
  2. the person halts, pauses, lowers and then lays the wreath,
  3. the person adopts the attention position, takes one pace rearwards, pauses and salutes if the person is wearing military uniform and headdress; and
  4. the person pauses again and then moves away from the memorial.

If the person laying a wreath is not wearing military uniform, the person is to bow their head and pauses to remember after taking one pace rearwards. The is no requirement to place the right hand on the left breast pocket, i.e. over the heart region when a person bows their head and pauses to remember.

Lament

Lament is an expression of sorrow, remorse, regret, mourning or grief and may be delivered in music, poetry or song. During the laying of wreaths, lament may be played by a piper, a musical compliment from a band or a solo vocalist. Lament commences immediately when the first personage moves forward towards the memorial after receiving a wreath from the wreath orderly. Lament concludes immediately when the last personage has moved away from the memorial after laying a wreath.

Wreaths of poppies

An early use of the poppy on Anzac Day was in 1940 in Palestine, where it grows in profusion in the spring. At the Dawn Service, each soldier dropped a poppy as he filed past the stone of remembrance. A senior Australian officer also laid a wreath of poppies that had been picked from the hillside of Mt Scopus.

Recitation during the commemorative services

One traditional recitation on Anzac Day is the fourth verse of the poem – ‘For the Fallen’ by and English poet and writer, Laurence Binyon which was written in the early days of World War I. It was first published in ‘The Times’ (London) on 24 Sep 1914, less than seven weeks after the outbreak of war and the British Expeditionary Force in France had already suffered severe casualties. Long lists of the dead and wounded appeared in British newspapers. It was against this background that Laurence Binyon wrote ‘For the Fallen’ and later in many anthologies of war verse.

Its initial use on ANZAC Day may have originated with the Queensland Anzac Day Commemoration Committee, which placed it on the cover of a collection of sermons and addresses for Anzac Day published in 1921. It was also used at the laying of the inauguration stone of the Australian War Memorial in 1929.

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.
As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are stary in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

The Ode

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Lest we forget

‘Lest we forget’ is not a part of the poem; however, it has become accepted practice to say it at the completion of The Ode.

Sounding The ‘Last Post’

The ‘Last Post’ is the bugle call, sounded in barracks and other military installations at 2200 hours to mark the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals and commemorative services to indicate that the soldier’s day has drawn to a final close. During the sounding of The ‘Last Post’, all members wearing military uniform and headdress are to stand at the attention position and salute.

Armed parties are to be given the order ‘present arms’ and the commander of the party is to hand salute, if that person is not carrying a weapon.

Period of silence

Silence for one or two minutes is included in Anzac Day Dawn Services and commemorative services as a sign of respect. It offers a time for reflection on the significance of the whole ceremony.

Two minutes silence is normally observed for all military Anzac Day Dawn Services and one minute silence for subsequent or other Anzac Day commemorative services. For Anzac Day commemorative services that are held on a day other than Anzac Day, one minute silence is to be observed. The period of silence may also be at the discretion of the event organiser.

‘Rouse’ and ‘Reveille’

'Rouse’: Traditionally the bugle call performed at Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force military funerals and services of dedication, and remembrance. ‘Rouse’ called soldiers’ spirits to arise, ready to fight for another day. Today, other than Anzac Day Dawn Services, it is associated with The ‘Last Post’.

Note: The Royal Australian Navy does not play ‘Rouse’ and only plays ‘Reveille’. In Navy terms 'Rouse' is a traditional term for ‘Guard and Steerage’.

During commemorative services and after one or two minutes silence has been observed, ‘Rouse’ is played by the bugler and the flag orderly(s) raises the flag(s) from the half-mast position to the mast head/peak. The flag(s) are raised to the mast head/peak in time with the playing of ‘Rouse’ so that when ‘Rouse’ is concluded, the flags have reached the mast head/peak.

‘Reveille’: Historically, ‘Reveille’ woke the soldier at dawn and the name of the ceremony is mentioned in 16th century books on war. Until 100 years ago, ‘Reveille’ was performed on drum and fife. Today, a solo bugle is used.

Note: The Royal Australian Navy ‘Reveille’ bugle call is different to what Army and Air Force play. Navy never plays ‘Rouse’ and will only play ‘Reveille’. As a result The Royal Australian Navy will raise and lower the Australian National Flag differently to the other two services.

During a Dawn Services and after one or two minutes silence has been observed, ‘Reveille’ is played by the bugler and the flag orderly(s) raises the flag(s) from the half-mast position to the mast head/peak. The flag(s) are raised to the mast head/peak in time with the playing of ‘Reveille’ so that when ‘Reveille’ is concluded, the flags have reached the mast head/peak.

‘Reveille’ is played only as the first call of the day while ‘Rouse’ may be used at any other time.

    The bugle call played after ‘silence’ is observed during an Anzac Day Dawn Service and commemorative services. The bugle call is as follows:

  1. Anzac Day Dawn Service–‘Reveille’.
  2. Anzac Day commemorative services and Remembrance Day commemorative services at other times of the day–‘Rouse’.
  3. Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorative services that are conducted on other days other than ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day–‘Rouse’.

Order of service

The order of service for all ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day observances should conform to the following sequence of events. An address, appropriate music, prayers and scripture readings may be included. As ANZAC Day is both a national and inter-faith occasion, diverse ethnic and religious sensitivities must be acknowledged.

    A suggested order of service is to consist of the following:

  1. unit associations members form-up at the memorial;
  2. escort party (if the Colours are marched-on) and band march-on;
  3. arrival of the Service and official guests;
  4. mounting of the catafalque party;
  5. official commencement of the service by the presiding officer;
  6. invocation,
  7. hymn,
  8. reading of requiescat,
  9. readings,
  10. address by senior invited guest,
  11. hymn,
  12. prayers,
  13. wreaths are laid,
  14. reciting of The Ode,
  15. The ‘Last Post’ is played; Notes,
  16. one or two minutes silence,
  17. ‘Rouse’ or ‘Reveille’ is played,
  18. Benediction,
  19. the Australian National Anthem is played,
  20. the catafalque party dismounts,
  21. Service and official guests depart; and
  22. Service associations fall-out.

Notes

(a) For an ANZAC Day Dawn Service, the ANF is to be at the half-mast position prior to the commencement of the service.

(b) For commemorative services conducted on other days other than ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, the ANF is lowered to the half-mast position just prior to the commencement of the service.

(c) The unit and association members are to be formed-up at the memorial area prior to the arrival of the Service guest and official guests.

(d) All military personnel wearing uniform and headdress are to salute.

(e) All troops armed and under command, including the catafalque party are to present arms.

(f) All military personnel who salute or present arms are to return to the attention position at the completion of the playing of The ‘Last Post’.

(g) For an ANZAC Day Dawn Service and a Remembrance Day commemorative service, two minutes silence is to be observed. For other ANZAC Day commemorative services and ANZAC Day commemorative services that are held on a day other than ANZAC Day, one minute silence is to be observed. For Remembrance Day commemorative services that are held on a day other than Remembrance Day, one minute silence is to be observed.

(h) The period of silence may also be at the discretion of the event organiser.

(i) The ANF is to be raised to the mast head/peak during the playing of ‘Rouse’ or ‘Reveille’.

(j) At the completion of a Dawn Service, the ANF is lowered to the half-mast position where it remains in that position until 1200 hours in which it is to be then raised to the mast head/peak.

(k) For commemorative services that are conducted prior to ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, the ANF is to remain at the mast head/peak.

(l) All personnel do not pay compliments during the playing of ‘Rouse’ or ‘Reveille’ but are to remain at the attention position.

(m) For an ANZAC Day Dawn Service, ‘Reveille’ is played and for all other commemorative services, ‘Rouse is played.

(n) All military personnel wearing uniform and headdress are to salute during the playing of the Australian National Anthem and other countries national anthem.

(o) All military personnel wearing uniform and headdress when saluting are not to sing.