Tuesday, October 13, 2015

100 years ago today

One hundred years ago today the words 'Anzac Day' were used for the first time. For the year 1915 South Australia's Eight Hour Day Celebrations were renamed 'Anzac Day'. The name had been suggested by a Prospect draper, Robert Wheeler. All money raised was donated to the Wounded Soldiers Fund. The word 'Anzac' was only just starting to be commonly used.

The day began with a procession that included injured veterans back home from Egypt and Gallipoli and 5000 new AIF recruits. But as the main goal was to raise funds and attract a large crowd there were also a lot of entertaining activities at Adelaide Oval after the procession. Up to 20,000 people attended those activities at the oval.

Although this is not the ANZAC Day we know today it did have a number of elements that are still a part of our current commemoration. 

"ANZAC Day is a binary of death and sacrifice, and a celebration of life and survival"
Dr. Janice Pavils.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Great Tramway Smash

The First Anzac Day was held in Adelaide on 13 October 1915 replacing the traditional Eight Hour Day holiday for one year only. A long procession was the central commemorative activity of the day. The procession was lead by the Naval Brigade followed by wounded veterans home from Gallipoli and Egypt and nearly 5000 new AIF recruits.
After the march concluded people gathered at Adelaide Oval for sports and entertainment. The main focus of the day was raising funds for the wounded soldiers and in an effort to attract a large crowd to the oval The Great Tramway Smash had been promoted in the newspapers as "the biggest sensation ever seen in Adelaide".  The crowd in attendance was estimated to be 20,000.

From the Advertiser 14 October 1915 "Extensive arrangements were made to arrange the smash - a real American novelty. When it was proposed the general manager of the Tramways Trust (Mr. W. G. T. Goodman) offered to assist in the matter. Two obsolete horse tramcars were hooked at either end on platforms about 30 ft. high. The track over which they were to speed dipped from each platform, and was almost level with the ground in the middle. Thousands of eyes were strained on the cars as they were started on their last run. As each second passed the cars gathered more speed. The huge crowd waited in suppressed excitement, as the cars bolted towards each other at a speed of about 16 miles per hour. The effect of the collision was startling. Explosions of detonators placed on the rails added to the din. The cars burst into flames immediately the impact took place, this having previously been arranged for. Fifteen thousand people were thrilled by an incident rarely seen.  Extensive damage was done when the cars were piled against each other. Nearly eight tons of wood and iron were involved in the collision. To the ordinary   eyewitness it was like watching two tramcars melt into a shapeless mass of twisted iron and splintered wood. The flames completed the total destruction of the cars."

                              Photographs from South Australian State Library collection.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

100 Year Anniversary Film Screening and Public Forum

On 13 October 1915 the people of South Australia voted to rename celebrations for the 8 Hour Day 'Anzac Day' in honour of soldiers wounded in the First World War. The event included a procession through Adelaide and carnival at Adelaide Oval. Now in 2015 we remember that first Anzac Day.

Join RSL SA, The University of Adelaide and History SA for a forum and film screening reflecting on the 100 year anniversary of the first Anzac Day. Drill Hall, Torrens Training Depot, Victoria Dve., Adelaide South Australia. Free car parking from 5pm

Bookings essential: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/first-anzac-day-tickets-18709352176 
Tuesday 13 October
5.30pm - Forum - Keith Conlon - MC
Vesna Drapac, Department of History, The University of Adelaide - Welcome
Allison Russell, History SA - A World Away: South Australia's War
Janice Pavils, Author & Historian - Patriotism Before Politics: Labour's Loyalty
Bernard Whimpress, Writer & Historian - Adelaide Oval beyond Sport, 1915-1918
Ash Starkey, film maker - The making of the film The First Anzac Day
Q&A discussion
Performance - 'Song of the 10th Battalion', by Hooper Brewster Jones
6.50pm - Interval for drinks & nibbles

7.20pm Screening of The First Anzac Day
(Those attending the film screening are asked to give a gold coin donation to RSL-SA)

Enquiries can be directed to RSL-SA, ph: 8100 7300 or History SA, ph: 8203 9888