Hornchurch and ANZAC Day exhibition – A display of images of the New Zealanders in Hornchurch during the First World War marking the centenary of the first ANZAC Commemoration Day can be seen in the Local Studies display case on the 1st Floor of the Central Library, Romford during normal opening hours from 21st April 2016 to 31st May 2016.
In January 1916, soldiers from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force began to arrive at the Grey Towers Camp in Hornchurch , newly established as their headquarters in England. Soon the camp became a convalescent hospital for the New Zealanders, and a relationship was established with Hornchurch residents which lasted to the end of the war and continues to this day.
On Easter Sunday, April 23rd 1916, a special church parade of New Zealand soldiers took place at St Andrew’s Church, Hornchurch. One of the columns near the chancel was draped with a New Zealand flag. On the flag was placed a laurel wreath with the inscription on purple ribbon “To the immortal memory of those who died for the Empire, Anzac 1915”.
On Tuesday 25th April, ANZAC Day, which honoured the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli, was celebrated for the first time and a special ceremony at Westminster Abbey was attended by the Hornchurch depot.
The New Zealanders at Hornchurch sent a special message to “their comrades of the Imperial Forces who took part in the Anzac operations at Gallipoli, on this the Anniversary of our great adventure, may we the New Zealanders tender our tribute to the immortal and glorious valour of the Battalions of your Regiment whom we have the honour to claim as comrades in arms”.