April 25 carries great significance for veterans here in Australia, New Zealand and wherever our troops are serving around the world. The Balmain Dawn Service is an opportunity for our community to come together and pay our respects to those who’ve fallen.
ANZAC Day dates back to World War One and the landing at Gallipoli. The brave soldiers who served here created a legend, adding the word ‘ANZAC’ to our vocabulary and establishing the notion of the ANZAC spirit. The first anniversary of the landing was observed in 1916 when the day was officially named by acting Prime Minister, George Pearce.
The Balmain Memorial at Loyalty Square was erected in 1915, it was paid for by the citizens of Balmain and carries the names of the local soldiers who died at Gallipoli. Although flowers have been brought here in remembrance for generations, it wasn’t until 2015 during the ‘Centenary of ANZAC’ that the Balmain Dawn Service was established. Since then, it has developed into the main Dawn Service in the inner west, attracting more than 3,000 people.
Every year, the Balmain Dawn Service carries its own theme of remembrance and this years’ service will pay tribute to Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheehan VC whose ship, HMAS Armidale, was built in the Mort Bay docks. Sheehan served aboard HMAS Armidale during World War Two. Tragically, the ship was attacked in the Arafura Sea on December 1, 1942 and sunk. Instead of abandoning ship, Sheehan returned to his machine gun to fire on the Japanese aircraft that was attacking his shipmates. In true ANZAC spirit, Sheehan chose certain death to save his mates. He was 18 years old.
On August 12, 2020, Sheehan was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest award for valour, by her Majesty The Queen. Sheehan’s service and sacrifice gives us the opportunity to reflect on the nature of military service in the time of war, a theme that unfortunately continues to reverberate around the world today.
The ANZAC Day Dawn Service is organised by the Balmain-Rozelle RSL sub-branch with the assistance of the Inner West Council.
Balmain Dawn Service
Monday 25 April
Loyalty Square, Balmain