Selected by Geoff Browell, Senior Archives Services Manager
This set of images from the collection of Sir Ian Hamilton provides a snapshot of the organisation of remembrance in the aftermath of war – not least for Australian and New Zealand families on Anzac Day (25 April). Remembrance is here an act of pilgrimage – a duty with strong Christian overtones – and literally a journey of a lifetime for some survivors and their families separated from the graves of their loved-ones by thousands of miles of ocean. No doubt many would not have attempted the voyage, relying instead commemoration of these ‘sleeping heroes’ by British cousins or ex-pats, and attesting to strong emotional and familial bonds which traversed the boundaries of Empire and Dominions.
Sir Ian Hamilton was intimately concerned with veteran welfare, latterly as President of the British Legion in Scotland from 1935 until 1947. He often received direct appeals for help and support from injured ex-servicemen and invitations to the unveiling of numerous war memorials which began to be erected across the country during the 1920s.
Hamilton’s invitation to a service held at St Clement Dane’s Church in London in 1921 is leant weight and significance by our knowledge of his commanding role in the ill-starred Gallipoli campaign, which witnessed numerous ANZAC casualties. Despite his rank and reputation, Hamilton has to apply for an invitation like anyone else – evidence of the event’s popularity or his own unpopularity among colonial veterans? The list of graves and cemeteries containing fallen Australian and New Zealand servicemen attests to their enormous sacrifice but also to the geographical breadth of their contribution, alluding to the sacrifice of numerous sailors and nurses, for example.
Ref: Hamilton 11/6/3