24 Apr 2014

Anzac memorials planned nationwide

5:51 am on 24 April 2014

The spirit of the Anzacs will be alive and well as racing cars take to the track at Pukekohe for the New Zealand round of the Super V8s on Friday.

Dawn services will be held throughout the country followed in many places by civic services.

Dawn services will be held throughout the country followed in many places by civic services. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Organisers have chosen the Returned and Services Association as its charity of choice for the event - one of the many commemorations being held to mark the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign on 25 April 1915.

The organisers of the Super V8s agreed to race this weekend only if it had the support of the RSA so they could honour the Anzac spirit.

RSA chief executive David Moger said each team has a mix of New Zealanders and Australians.

New Zealand will host an ANZAC Super V8 meet at Pukekohe on Friday.

New Zealand will host an ANZAC Super V8 meet at Pukekohe on Friday. Photo: AAP

"They stand shoulder-to-shoulder competing - facing the enemy almost - just as the guys did back in the first Anzac campaign."

He said there would not be any racing on Anzac Day morning. "The drivers and their teams will attend the dawn service and the later civic service before everyone marches to the track and racing starts in the afternoon."

Large crowds are expected at dawn services and civic memorials up and down the country.

RSA national president Don McIver said Friday will be extra special as its the start of commemorations marking the beginning of World War I a century ago in August and is one year off the Gallipoli centenary.

Mr McIver said the growing interest in Anzac Day among people, particularly the young, is very pleasing.

"The immediate generation after those who served stepped back from commemorations but I think their sons and daughters and grandchildren have started to see what their forebears have done and believe its appropriate to start remembering again - its generational change".

There is growing interest among the young in ANZAC Day memorials.

There is growing interest among the young in ANZAC Day memorials. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Mr McIver said while the ranks of veterans was quickly diminishing, it would always be important to remember the sacrifices made.

A war horse remembered

One service is unique. It honours not only the people who served and died during World War I, but also the unsung heroes - their horses. About 4000 animals were shipped overseas to fight, but only four came back.

The remembrance is known as the Service for Bess, named after Colonel Charles Powles' horse, who returned to New Zealand and lived for another 14 years before dying in 1934.

The president of Friends of Bess, Fred MacDonald, said it was the only service in the world to recognise the role of the horse. "Our motto is to observe and preserve the memory of Bess and all those who served with her."

Mr MacDonald said not all the horses died in battle, but many had to be put down by their riders after being told they couldn't take them home.

The Service for Bess will be held at the site where Bess is buried on Forest Road near Bulls.