Anzac Day 2018 Program
Please find below the program for Anzac Day in West Flanders, Belgium with accompanying notes and weblinks. The program included commemorations jointly held with New Zealand which, through its Embassy , also organised others in Messines and Ploegsteert.
Anzac Day Wednesday 25 April
Joint Australia/New Zealand Dawn Service - Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke
Duration: approx. 45 minutes
Location: Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Address: Polygon Wood, Lange Dreve, Zonnebeke
Notes: In the lead-up to the Dawn Service roads around Polygon Wood will be blocked by local authorities due to parking being very limited near the venue. If travelling by vehicle, please park in Parking C at the Bellewaerde theme park near Zonnebeke. From there you can take a shuttle bus to Polygon Wood. This service is being provided by the municipality and starts at 04:30am with the last shuttle bus expected to leave the carpark at 5:30am. After the Dawn Service you can take the shuttle service to Parking C or to 'OC 't Zonnerad' for the breakfast which starts at 7:30am. Those wishing to attend the breakfast are required to purchase an e-ticket (€5) in advance.
Polygon Wood is a large wood south of Zonnebeke, which was completely devastated in World War One (WW1). Buttes New British Cemetery was built after the war and 2,108 Commonwealth soldiers are buried or commemorated there, including 564 Australians. On top of the butte is the Memorial to the 5th Australian Division , which captured it on 26 September 1917.
Tyne Cot Commemoration Service – Zonnebeke
Duration: approx. 30 minutes
Location: Tyne Cot Cemetery
Address: Vijfwegenstraat 1, Zonnebeke
Notes: Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the world with the remains of 11,956 soldiers (1,368 Australian) buried there. The area was strategically important in WW1 and was captured by the 3rd Australian Division and the New Zealand Division on 4 October 1917 in the advance on Passchendaele. A Cross of Sacrifice was built on top of a German pill box in the centre of the cemetery.
Joint Australian/New Zealand Procession and Menin Gate Service – Ieper/Ypres
Duration: approx. 35 minutes
Location: Menin Gate
Address: Grote Markt/Meenestraat, Ieper/Ypres
Notes: In Ieper/Ypres, the Australian and New Zealand official Anzac Day parties and local dignitaries will assemble at the municipality’s historic Cloth Hall. Together they will then march in procession to the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial for the Anzac Day Service, which includes a Last Post ceremony. Menin Gate has inscribed on its walls the names of 54, 896 soldiers whose graves are unknown; 6,198 are Australian.
Joint Australian/New Zealand Belgian War Memorial Wreath Laying – Ieper/Ypres
Duration: approx. 5 minutes
Location: Belgian War Memorial
Address: Vandenpeerboomplein (behind Cloth Hall)
Notes: In Ieper/Ypres, the Australian and New Zealand official Anzac Day parties and local dignitaries will march in procession from the Menin Gate to The Belgian War Memorial in Ieper where a wreath laying ceremony will take place.
Toronto Avenue Cemetery Commemoration Service - Comines-Warneton
Duration: approx. 30 minutes
Location: Toronto Avenue Cemetery
Address: Ploegsteert Wood, Huttebergweg, Comines-Warneton
Notes: Toronto Avenue Cemetery in Ploegsteert is the only all Australian cemetery in Belgium, and one of only two on the entire Western Front (the other being VC Corner Cemetery in France). It contains 78 graves of soldiers from the 9th Brigade (3rd Australian Division) who died in the Battle of Messines between 7 and 10 June 1917. The cemetery is nestled in Ploegsteert Wood and accessed by a rough path. Its small size means only the official party will be inside the cemetery during the commemoration service. There is no parking nearby. If you wish to attend the commemoration, please use the free shuttle service provided by the municipality of Comines-Warneton . Shuttles start leaving for Toronto Avenue Cemetery at 14:00 from in front of the Ploegsteert Memorial which is in the Berks Cemetery Extension. The last shuttle departs at 15:00. The shuttle service back to the Ploegsteert Memorial starts from Toronto Avenue Cemetery after the end of the commemoration service there.
Please note separate from the above Anzac Day Program is the Last Post Ceremony, held nightly at 8pm by the Last Post Association at Menin Gate in Ieper/Ypres.