General Lord Richard Dannatt to attend ANZAC Day ceremony in Southwold

THE former head of the British Army will join civic dignitaries in Southwold as the town plays host to a memorial service marking one of the most poignant days in military history, it emerged this week.

A military parade and a civic service will form the focal point of the commemorative events for ANZAC Day – remembering the Australian and New Zealand troops who lost their lives in the first world war.

The event will take place on Sunday April 29 – four days after the official ANZAC Day – and will be attended by General Lord Richard Dannatt, Deputy Lord Lt Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, members of the Royal British Legion, and representatives from the Turkish Embassy and the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions.

The mayor of Southwold, John Windell, said he was proud that the town was hosting such a major event.

'It is going to be one of the biggest processions we have had in Southwold for a long time,' he said. 'We are expecting 10 mayors from the across the area to come join us for the event.

'I am really looking forward to it – it is the type of event that Southwold does really well. The schools and children are getting involved by making rosemary sprigs which is synonymous with remembrance and commemoration.

'We're expecting about 300 people to attend and over 400 Anzac biscuits are being baked for the occasion.

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'With this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Torch Relay, it's going to be a big year for Southwold.'

ANZAC Day commemorates the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who died in the first world war.

It also marks the day – on April 25, 1915 – when members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZACs, landed at Gallipoli in Turkey to fight in their first major military battle of the conflict.

The ANZACs formed part of an allied expedition to capture the Gallipoli peninsula, with the strategic aim of taking hold of Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire which was allied to Germany.

However, when the troops landed on the beaches of Gallipoli at dawn on April 25, they were met with fierce resistance from Turkish forces, leading to a stalemate which lasted eight months.

Although the military objective to capture the capital and eliminate Turkey from the war ultimately failed, the actions of the ANZACs during the campaign has left a powerful legacy still felt to this day.

The battle led to more than 70,000 allied casualties – including 8,700 Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders.

It was decided in 1916 that April 25 should be officially declared ANZAC day. Since then, it has become one of Australia's and New Zealand's most important national occasions for remembering those killed during the war.

Diana Whayman, honorary secretary and treasurer of the Suffolk branch of The Britain Australian Society, said: 'The ANZAC Day service remembers the sacrifices made by many members of the Australian and New Zealand Armed Services who made the ultimate sacrifice along with members of the British Commonwealth Services during the first world war.'

The event in Southwold on April 29 will begin at 2.40pm with a parade through the town centre, led by the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums. The band will be followed by the standards and representatives of Royal British Legion branches, other service veterans' groups, and civic dignitaries, including 10 mayors from East Anglia. A salute will be taken in front of the United Reform Church in High Street by Deputy Lord Lt Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, representing Suffolk; Mr Windell, representing Southwold, and officials representing the Turkish Embassy and the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions.

At 3pm, Rev Simon Pitcher will lead a service at St Edmunds Church where a wreath-laying ceremony will take place and an address will be given by General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army.

The parade will reform at 4pm in Batholomew Green and will march down Victoria Street and Cumberland Road before halting opposite Southwold Primary School for an inspection of the standards.

Refreshments will follow at St Edmunds Hall where tea, coffee and ANZAC biscuits – named after those sent to soldiers by their families during the first world war – will be served.

•St Edmunds Church Hall will be open from 12 noon on the day where a finger buffet has been arranged at �10 per person.

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