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St. George’s and Anzac Day

Picture of Richard Dixy, a visiting volunteer standing next to the MCF banner

WBro Keith Appleby writes:

Peace & Unity Lodge No. 4101 marked St. George’s Day and Anzac Day with a double presentation at their meeting on Thursday 25th April.

The WM, WBro. Keith Appleby, SLGR, gave a talk on “St. George – Martyr and Patron Saint of England”. Whilst little is known of the historical George, the earliest source, Eusebius of Caesarea, tells of a soldier of noble birth who was put to death under Emperor Diocletian at Nicomedia on 23 April, 303 for protesting against Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. George rapidly became venerated throughout Christendom as an example of bravery in defence of the poor and the defenceless and of the Christian faith.

The story of George and the Dragon is first recorded in the late sixth century and may have been an allegory of the persecution by Diocletian, but may also be a Christianised version of the Greek legend of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from a sea monster. The legend may have been particularly well received in England because of a similar legend in Anglo-Saxon literature – that of the White Dragon, an image of which appeared on the battle flag of Harold when he fought first against the Danes at Stamford Bridge, and three weeks later against the Normans at Hastings. The supposed tomb of St George can still be seen at Lod, south-east of Tel-Aviv.

Central Canterbury has still a strong connection to St George, with St George the Martyr church, founded in 1538, remaining now only as a clock tower, having been bombed out in June 1942. It gives its name to St. George’s Street, St. Georges Place, St George’s Centre (part of the University), and more.
This well received talk was followed by W.Bro. Graham Mitchell, PGStB, PPSGW, who gave an inspiring presentation on Anzac Day, based around his own visit to the ‘Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War’ exhibition in Wellington, New Zealand, and information provided by the Patriots Motorcycle Group – Dunedin Chapter NZ. The museum depicts the lives and conditions in which soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) found themselves at Gallipoli, pinned to the beachhead for eight months between April 1915 and January 1916.

Australians and New Zealanders did not necessarily identify themselves as distinct until the horrors of Gallipoli awakened their national consciousness. A heightened sense of nationalism also emerged among the victors at Gallipoli, which Atatürk used to great effect in founding the independent Republic of Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Australians, New Zealanders and Turks all commonly make pilgrimages to the battlefield, now a protected national park with numerous gravesites and memorials.

Anzac Day, the 25th April, has been the major memorial day in Australia and New Zealand since, especially following the Second World War, and traditionally marked with a dawn service (marking the time of the initial invasion), marching ex-servicemen and women, ‘two up’ contests in Australia, and the “gunfire breakfast” (coffee with rum added) which occurs shortly after the many dawn ceremonies, and recalls the “breakfast” taken by many soldiers before facing battle.
At the Festive Board the Brethren remembered especially the Freemasons who lost their lives as part of the ANZAC in both wars in the toast to Absent Brethren.

Dinner, decorated with England, Australia and New Zealand flags, was rounded off with Anzac biscuits (popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using oats, flour, golden syrup and desiccated coconut) kindly provided by the WM’s Lady, Christine. Anzac biscuits have an explicit exemption to a ban on commercial use of the term “Anzac” – so long as they are sold as “biscuits” and not “cookies”!
A rousing rendition of The Tyler’s Song sung by W.Bro. Graham Mitchell and accompanied – to the best of their ability! – by the Brethren, completed an excellent evening.

Primary Sources:
Collins, M. St. George – England’s Patron Saint www.brittania.com (now defunct)
Greenspan, J. 8 Things You May Not Know About the Gallipoli Campaign www.history.com

Welcoming the Worshipful Master to the festive board
Three members of the lodge
Enjoying the festive board and meeting
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