Brigadier Nigel Best OBE

Defence Advisor, Australia

Guest blogger for UK in Australia

Part of UK in Australia

25th April 2024 Canberra, Australia

Reflect & Remember: Anzac Day 2024

Over the past two years I have had the privilege of attending Anzac Day services in Canberra and Perth. Each year it’s an opportunity to reflect and remember those who have served and lost their lives to defend our freedom.

There is a long tradition of our armed forces marking this important day together. On the 25 April 1916 in London more than 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets; a London newspaper headline dubbed them “the knights of Gallipoli”. And this year will be no different, with my defence and diplomatic colleagues in Australia attending Anzac Day services across every state and territory. It will be an honour to do so alongside serving soldiers and veterans. Personally, I have the great privilege of attending the service this year in Sydney.

Next year will mark 110 years since the Gallipoli landings, the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand forces during the First World War. It saw 16,000 Australian’s New Zealanders, with British French and Indian troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula. During the campaign, over 410,000 British soldiers served in Gallipoli and more than 41,000 British were killed, fighting with their Anzac partners.

This historic alliance continues to grow. There are over 75 British exchange officers embedded across Australia, working and training alongside their Australian colleagues.

Our defence and security relationship continues towards an unprecedented state of strategic intimacy and common identity. And of course, AUKUS is perhaps the most visible example of this change, a generational shift in our defence and security dynamic. As world events continue to unfold, we see these partnerships grow. Whether in our joint support to Ukraine to defeat an illegal Russian invasion; or protecting freedom of navigation, international trade, and human life by countering illicit non-state actors in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The UK’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said on his recent visit to Australia that we are moving from a post-war age to a pre-war one. Should this be the case then great allies must tighten their bonds. The new Defence and Security Cooperation Agreement along with its ‘status of forces’ agreement, signed last month in Canberra, will allow Australia and the United Kingdom to take a closer view of these shared global challenges.

Working in Australia and building this partnership is a huge honour. As is representing my country as we recognise the service and sacrifice of so many. And in doing so we remember and honour the values that have been invested in the original Anzacs – loyalty, selflessness, courage.

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