ANZAC Day: April 25, 1937

Australian Contingent, London 1937

Australian Coronation Contingent sent for the Coronation of King George VI. ANZAC Day, 25 April 1937, the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London. (State Library, Victoria, Australia).

The Australian Coronation Contingent

Eighty years ago an Australian contingent of 100 soldiers, 25 sailors and 25 airmen traveled to the United Kingdom for the Coronation of King George VI, 12 May 1937. One of the contingent’s tasks was to return the remains of British soldier, Arthur Evans VC who died in Sydney Australia 1 November 1936.

Evans served in the Lincolnshire Regiment, of the British Army, using the alias Walter Simpson and was previously awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Evans was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry 2 September 1918 south west of Etaing, France.

Arthur Percival Sullivan

During the Great War, Arthur Percival Sullivan VC served with the 10 Battalion Australian Imperial Force and later joined a unit of the Australian artillery. (Wikipedia via the Australian War Memorial).

Sadly, another Victoria Cross recipient Arthur Percy Sullivan of the Australian Coronation Contingent lost his life, 9 April 1937, when he accidentally fell in Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London near to Wellington Barracks. Sullivan earned his Victoria Cross shortly after the Great War with the British Army’s North Russia Expeditionary Force.

Arthur Sullivan VC plaque, London, England.

Arthur Sullivan VC plaque on the iron railings at Wellington Barracks, London, England. (P. Ferguson image, 2016).

Citation for the Award of the Victoria Cross
London Gazette 26 September 1919

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 10th August 1919, at the Sheika River, North Russia. The platoon to which he belonged, after fighting a rearguard covering action, had to cross the river by means of a narrow plank and during the passage an officer and three men fell into a deep swamp. Without hesitation, under intense fire, Corporal Sullivan jumped into the river and rescued all four, bringing them out singly. But for this gallant action his comrades would undoubtedly have been drowned. It was a splendid example of heroism, as all ranks were on the point of exhaustion, and the enemy less than 100 yards distant.

ANZAC Day Commemorative Service ticket.

Admittance ticket to the ANZAC Day Commemorative Service, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, 25 April 1917.

During the visit of the Australian Coronation Contingent in London, ANZAC Day (25 April) was observed at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. The service was led by Canon P.E. James of Wellington, New Zealand who spoke upon Guide Our Feet into the Way of Peace (Luke 1:79). Following the service the contingent marched to the Cenotaph where buglers from the Royal Marines sounded The Last Post and wreaths were laid by several dignitaries including General Sir Ian Hamilton and General Sir William Birdwood.

General Sir Ian Hamilton first commanded the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force until October 1916 when he was relieved. His place was taken by Sir William Birdwood the former commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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