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A Day of Mateship

Friday 24 April, 2015

Source: RSL-SA

As we wake up on Anzac Day to commemorate the Centenary of the Gallipoli landings we are reminded that the first Anzac Day was held in Adelaide in 1915.

One hundred years is quite an achievement for any event, and while many things have changed some things have stayed the same.

The story of the first Anzac Day, produced by filmmaker Ashley Starkey and recently released on DVD, captures both the historical day and the formation of the 10th Battalion.

The 10th Battalion were the first infantry battalion raised in South Australia and amongst the first ashore at Gallipoli. The 10th Battalion included two scouts, Arthur Blackburn and Philip Robin, who ventured further than many of their allies.

Robin, already a successful footballer with Norwood, was killed in action on April 28 1915, aged 30 years. His story, and many others, has recently been captured in Michael Coligan’s book Norwood Men Who Served.

Blackburn was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, became a founding member of the RSL and its State President from 1917 – 1921.

Both men prepared for their service at Morphettville Racecourse, the birthplace for the 10th Battalion.

Both men were not aware of the first Anzac Day held on the 13th of October 1915.

This was the date that South Australians changed Eight Hour Day to Anzac Day, and hosted a large procession of wounded veterans and new recruits. The event raised funds for the Wounded Soldiers Fund, and a range of activities were held at Adelaide Oval to encourage a larger crowd.

Many South Australians will travel into the city for the 2015 Anzac Day, passing Morphettville Racecourse in the west or Adelaide Oval in the north. It is symbolic that both venues have scheduled sporting events on this day.

The South Australian Jockey Club has worked with the RSL to schedule its Anzac Race Day which will include an Anzac tribute, a Light-horseman display and a trophy presentation by Squadron Leader Bob Cowper. Cowper was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar for his exploits in World War Two. Racing will commence from 12.15pm to ensure South Australians have time to commemorate the day.

In the evening, the Port Adelaide Football Club will host Hawthorn for AFL Anzac Round. The club will wear jumpers that feature the names of 120 past players who also served, and will present the Major Peter Badcoe VC Medal for the twelfth time. Badcoe was awarded the Victoria Cross for his service in Vietnam.

Importantly, both the SAJC and PAFC will promote the RSL Anzac Appeal, and allow existing members of the Australian Defence Force to collect at the gates. This act of kindness will raise in the vicinity of $10,000 and support welfare programs for Veterans and their families.

It would be intriguing to interview both Blackburn and Robin today on the advancement of Anzac Day. In addition to the Dawn Service in Adelaide we have over 150 similar services across the state. Up to 30,000 are expected to line city streets for the March that will recognise all South Australians who have served. At Adelaide Oval we will see 50,000 Power supporters singing to INXS and then pausing for a minute’s silence.

We know that Blackburn and Robin were mates who supported each other in desperate times. Mateship is recognised by the RSL as one of four core values. The RSL considers both the SAJC and PAFC as mates for backing our Anzac Appeal. We encourage all South Australians to spend a day with their mates, at a Dawn Service or March, and at one of the many sporting events throughout the state.

For copies of The First Anzac Day contact Ashley Starkey at

For copies of Norwood Men Who Served contact Norwood FC at

RSL Contact: Darren Adamson, Director Communications & Development – 0404 077 634

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