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[Photos] ANZAC Day: The Last Post

The Last Post

By MarEx 2016-04-25 01:50:05

Monday April 25 is Anzac Day, a day of remembrance recognized by Australians and New Zealanders. Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in war and on operational service are remembered. 

The spirit of Anzac, with its qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continue to have particular meaning and relevance in Australia’s sense of national identity.

In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest and at commemorative services such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

The call is believed to have originally been part of a more elaborate routine, known in the British Army as "tattoo", which began in the 17th century. In the evening, a duty officer had to do the rounds of his unit's position, checking that the sentry posts were manned and rounding up the off-duty soldiers and packing them off to their beds or billets. The officer would be accompanied by one or more musicians. 

The "first post" was sounded when he started his rounds and, as the party went from post to post, a drum was played. The drum beats told off-duty soldiers it was time to rest; if the soldiers were in a town, the beats told them it was time to leave the pubs. (The word "tattoo" comes from the Dutch for "turn off the taps" of beer kegs; Americans call this "taps" or "drum taps".) 

Another bugle call was sounded when the officer's party completed its rounds, reaching the "last post" – this signalled that the night sentries were alert at their posts and gave one last warning to the other soldiers.

The Last Post was eventually incorporated into funeral and memorial services as a final farewell, and symbolises the duty of the dead is over and they can rest in peace.

In most ceremonies of remembrance there is a reading of the Ode. The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon. 

"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."

Listen to The Last Post here.

Images courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.