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Anzac Day 2013

Sydney, Australia
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Anzac Day 2013

ANZAC Day (which for the non-Australians and New Zealanders reading the forum stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) which is always observed on 25th April and is the day of the year in which our respective nations pause to remember all those killed, died of wounds or disease and who were wounded or maimed etc in the service of our two countries. ANZAC Day is very special to the citizens of both countries given our very largely shared military history and experience.

This year, I was in Phnom Penh on 25th April and was privileged to attend this Dawn Service of Remembrance, the 98th, at the new Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh. It is also the 70 remembrance of all those who toiled, suffered and died as prisoners of war, and as civilian forced-labour, at the hands of the Japanese during World War Two at Hell Fire Pass, constructing the infamous Burma Railway

ANZAC Day had been well advertised in the English language print media and all nationals of each country and their Khmer guests were invited to attend. As could others if so inclined.

It's an early start to the day. A quick phone call at 04:00 am to ensure that my tuk-tuk driver is at least awake and either waiting for me or on his way to pick me up. I need not have worried because he had set up his hammock inside his tuk-tuk and spent the night sleeping right outside the front door of the Blue Lime! He comes from a province other than Phnom Penh and his "home" is his tuk-tuk.

At 04:30 am my two Khmer guests, Khom and Sokun, two members of the part-time Tourist Assistants group, arrive right on time dressed in their lovely traditional Khmer lace tops and beautiful silk skirts, so we climb aboard and set off through the deserted streets of Phnom Penh. As we drove, I was once again stuck by the beauty of this fine city, once described as the Pearl of the Orient. At 04:30 am the only people about were an occasional street sweeper and, with the elegant street lights still on, and without any traffic, it was easy to appreciate the lovely wide boulevards and gardens of the city.

On arrival at the Australian Embassy, there was the usual security screening and identity checks and searching of bags etc. However, as we were only being admitted to the lovely grounds of the Embassy and not in to the embassy itself, we were given back our mobile phones and cameras. We were also given a very tasteful printed Form of Service and a candle in a cup with which to help read the form of service and the words of the several non-denominational hymns.

The Dawn Service followed the usual format and as dawn arrived I was surprised to see circa 200 or more people in the grounds around me and I was happy to see many veterans wearing their medals, either full sized or miniatures, and a goodly number of Khmers attending.

After the traditional wreath layings and at the conclusion of the service, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that all those assembled were invited to a breakfast at the Cambodiana Hotel, out on the Mekong Terrace, overlooking the confluence of the Tonle Sap and the Mekong Rivers. A beautiful setting for breakfast indeed.

Over the years I've attended many ANZAC Day Dawn Services and in different parts of the world but this has to have been the most tasteful and memorable except, possibly, those in Singapore surrounded by the headstones of the fallen.

My sincere congratulations to the Australian Defence Liaison Section at the Australian Embassy Phnom Penh. You did Australia and it's veterans past and present proud.

All best regards. Ian

Camp Phnom Penh @ Blue Lime standards room. Next for Kampong Chhnang

PS. I apologise for the lower case for ANZAC in the heading but Trip Adviser pre-post censorship will NOT accept it in it's correct form and admonished me for use of capitals in the heading.

Edited: 25 April 2013, 23:07
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Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Cambodia
Blue Lime
Blue Lime
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Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Hotel Cambodiana
Hotel Cambodiana
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Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore
Brisbane, Australia
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1. Re: Anzac Day 2013

Ian thanks for that. It sounds like it was a wonderful service. I have to admit after visiting Gallipoli 10 years ago, admittedly not on ANZAC Day, and seeing all those headstones it make it more "real" for me as I am of the generation that did not go off to fight ( my male friends were too young for Vietnam).

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Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: Anzac Day 2013

Ian, thank you, this is truly lovely to read. My family is very much a military one and have also attended services in different parts of the world. Our ANZAC day here in Aust was huge for us (still recovering). Lest we forget.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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3. Re: Anzac Day 2013

Ian, great post thanks. My father and I, both veterans, my mother, my Khmer wife, and some fellow NZ veterans also attended. The Australian Embassy put on a very professional, and moving, dawn service and then a wonderful breakfast at the Cambodiana.

My only dissapointment was the amount of people who turned up wearing board shorts, singlets and jandals (thongs/flip flops). I am happy that people are showing their respect by attending...but the least they could do was show a little respect by dressing appropritely.

Well done to the Australian Embassy and thank you to all of those who turned up to pay their respects.

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Hotel Cambodiana
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Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Anzac Day 2013

Hello Rarky,

Thanks for your kind words.

One of these days I hope to find out just what it was that was said in Maori towards the end of the service.

Can you provide an English translation being a Kiwi?

Fully agree with you. On this one day of the year at least a bit of commonsense about dress would be appreciated from some. But at least they were there. And at least there were no pseudo patriots who have never served on active service draped in our national flags.

Best regards. Ian

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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5. Re: Anzac Day 2013

If I had a recording of what was said I could probably give you a rough translation...off the top of my head I can't quite remeber sorry.

And I agree with your comment regarding the "pseudo patriots ...draped in national flags", it makes me ashamed when i see footage of all the Kiwis and Aussies at Gallipoli each year doing exactly that.

6. Re: Anzac Day 2013

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