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The Diggers’ March in Sydney

In April 1938, several thousand New Zealand “diggers” sailed from Wellington for Sydney, where they reunited with their Australian “cobbers” of 1914 – 1918 in a grand Anzac Day procession through the city.

The huge march from the Cenotaph to the Domain, where a commemoration service was held, was part of Australia’s 150th anniversary celebrations and some 50,000 returned servicemen took part – with an estimated half a million people lining the Sydney streets. 

In this live radio broadcast from the Wellington waterfront, Station 2ZB announcers – who were veterans themselves – capture the cheering, bands and excitement on the docks. New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage farewells the old soldiers as they board former World War One troopships – ‘the Monowai’ and ‘the Maunganui’ – for the trip across the Tasman.

Year:1938

Location:Wellington, New Zealand

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The Diggers’ March in Sydney

In April 1938, several thousand New Zealand “diggers” sailed from Wellington for Sydney, where they reunited with their Australian “cobbers” of 1914 – 1918 in a grand Anzac Day procession through the city.

The huge march from the Cenotaph to the Domain, where a commemoration service was held, was part of Australia’s 150th anniversary celebrations and some 50,000 returned servicemen took part – with an estimated half a million people lining the Sydney streets. 

In this live radio broadcast from the Wellington waterfront, Station 2ZB announcers – who were veterans themselves – capture the cheering, bands and excitement on the docks. New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage farewells the old soldiers as they board former World War One troopships – ‘the Monowai’ and ‘the Maunganui’ – for the trip across the Tasman.


Year: 1938

Length: 0:02:57

Production Company: Radio New Zealand

Credits: Station 2ZB, New Zealand Commercial Broadcasting Service

Source: Radio New Zealand Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: 17314 Departure of New Zealand Diggers to Australia


People: Michael Joseph Savage, Les Strachan, Sir Andrew Russell, JA Lyons

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Tags: 1938, WWI, World War One, Michael Joseph Savage, Les Strachan, Wellington, New Zealand, Sydney, Anzac Day, Parade, Procession, diggers

Subject: 1938, World War One, Anzac Day Parade, Diggers March, Sydney


Image Title: Diggers’ Day in Wellington, 22 April 1938, Poverty Bay Herald

Image Source: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH19380426.2.148.1


Preparations for the “invasion” of nearly 2,000 New Zealand returned soldiers were outlined in detail by the Australian press, in the lead up to the big Anzac Day reunion.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “The demand for places in the New Zealand contingent was so keen that the problem was overcome by each town and village selecting its representatives by ballot”.

Sir Andrew Russell, who commanded the New Zealand Division during the war, lead the party, which was placed at the front of the Sydney parade. “The New Zealanders will be headed by a number of regimental banners and other flags, including the New Zealand flag, and what is known as the New Zealand emblem, portraying the silver fern on a black background. This will be borne by Nahu Toki, a Maori, with a Maori on either side of him, each also carrying a banner”.

The men spent about a week in Sydney, with receptions, galas and outings organised for them by the Australian Returned Services League. However, the reunion festivities took place in the shadow of another war looming in Europe.

Australian Prime Minister JA Lyons noted in his Anzac Day address: “At this time, when defence has of necessity become the first preoccupation of every unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the presence of veterans of the valiant New Zealand division is not merely a sacred and historical reminder, but a pledge of that kinship which assures the close co-operation of the two British communities of the South Pacific in any eventualities which may threaten their national integrity”.

Sources:
The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 1938 p. 13
The Press, 26 April 1938 p. 13