Anzac Day is as Australian a tradition as they come - we rise at dawn, put aside our differences and come together to remember and honour the brave soldiers who fought and died in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I… and since. We talk about brothers, daughters, fathers, and great uncles - who were lost too soon. We express our gratitude and our sorrow in the same breath - and by 11:00am most of us are three sheets to the wind and desperate for a coffee.
For coffee drinkers, Anzac Day provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the role that coffee played in the lives of these soldiers. In the trenches, coffee was often brewed in large cauldrons and served to soldiers in enamel mugs. It provided a welcome respite from the harsh conditions of war, and a moment of comfort and warmth amidst the chaos.
The importance of coffee to soldiers during World War I has been immortalised in the famous song, "The Quartermaster's Stores", which includes the lines:
"We'll all be glad when we get back to Cairo again,
For we're all sick of bully and Maconochie stew,
And we'll all have a cup of coffee when we get back to Cairo again."
As we sit down to enjoy our coffee on Anzac Day, let us take a moment to remember the men and women who fought and died for our freedom. Let us honour their memory and sacrifice in gratitude for the comfort and peace that we enjoy today, thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of these soldiers. Lest we forget.
*Photo: AWM E00085 - "Here, soldiers from the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the trenches near Houplines, December 1916."