Sacred Cathedral artefacts included in Anzac Day dedications

Christ Church Cathedral’s hallowed Warriors Chapel will be incorporated into Newcastle’s program of Anzac Day Commemorations for 2018.

The Anzac flame monument at Wednesday’s Nobbys Dawn Service will be lit from a flame that has flickered in the chapel since Great War widows and family of the fallen gathered to mourn husbands, sons, brothers and fathers buried on foreign battlefields.

The sanctuary lamp was ceremonially relit by Dean Katherine Bowyer during the annual Anzac Service on Sunday evening before Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes uses it to light the Anzac flame at the 5am Dawn Service.

“This is a wonderful addition to the extensive commemorations organised by Council in cooperation with the City of Newcastle RSL,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“I look forward with great pride to receiving the flame from Dean Bowyer at the Dawn Service next Wednesday morning.”

Newcastle Sub-Branch RSL President Ken Fayle said Newcastle’s Anzac Day Committee was proud to include the Warriors Chapel’s treasures in the commemorations.

“By tying in the lighting and blessing of the flame from the Warriors Chapel we are seeking to create more interest in the Anzac Service in the Cathedral, which has been held since 1916 without a break, and highlight what amounts to an incredible museum of our war history,” Mr Fayle said.

The Book of Gold

Other items on display in the Warriors Chapel include:

  • The Book of Gold, a book bearing the names of Hunter men killed in the Great War made from the wedding rings and other jewellery donated by local war widows.
  • The Birdwood Flag, an Australian red ensign presented to General Birdwood on the battlefield in Ypres in 1917. General Birdwood returned it to Novocastrian Dora Sparke, who had it made with funds from the Hunter branches of the NSW Field Force Fund, and she presented it to the Cathedral in 1922.
  • The Gallipoli Flag – Union Flag was presented by Colonel G. Burnage, Commanding Officer of the 13th Infantry Battalion, AIF, who served at Gallipoli, to the Cathedral at the first Anzac Day service there on 25 April 1916.The fabled Toc H lamp was endowed by Australia’s then-Governor General Sir Henry Forster in 1926, after he had lost two sons in World War One, to the international goodwill Toc H movement, which emerged from a beloved shelter for soldiers in Belgium during World War One. A Ceremony of Enshrinement was held in 1926 and the Toc H or “Forster” lamp was placed in the cathedral’s Warrior’s Chapel, making it the spiritual home of Toc H in Australia.

The Gallipoli Flag

The Birdwood Flag

The Cathedral also welcomed members of the War Widows Guild, the Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, and representatives of the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Airforce, RSL, and families to the Cathedral on Thursday morning for the opening of the Field of Remembrance. The Field of Remembrance is open until Thursday, when there will be a Closing Liturgy at 11am. Members of the public are invited to place a cross at any time before the Field closes. Crosses available at the Cathedral Shop.