ANZAC day is an important day for all of us. On this day in 1915 the ANZACs stormed ashore a place now known as ANZAC cove. The First World War had an enormous impact on New Zealand, reshaping the country’s perception of itself and its place in the world and fostering a sense of national identity. This is a day to remember those who have served our country during conflict and crisis in all parts of the world.
It is a special day for me personally having served in the New Zealand army as a medical officer in Bosnia and Iraq. I take this time to reflect on all those men and women who served their country not only as an act of true bravery but to protect democracy so all of us can have the lifestyle we have today. I would imagine it is a special day for a lot of staff as I am sure they or their families have been touched in some way.
Waikato Hospital dates back to 1897 so as an organisation we have been affected by all the wars, whether by the staff who served at the front line during those times or the medical support provided to care for the wounded. Even today we have some of our staff actively involved with the armed forces on hand to support our country.
The impact of wars of the 20th Century were felt in the Waikato with medical and nursing staff greatly reduced. The early wars played a part in significant medical advances in plastic surgery, burns treatment, general wounds treatment and rehabilitation therapies. Massage, a precursor of physiotherapy was first introduced for injured soldiers during WW1. During WW2 we built a whole ward block in anticipation of an influx of injured servicemen from the Pacific War.
All this information can be found on Waikato Hospital’s Timeline mural on level 2, Meade Clinical Centre (MCC) which was put together by Dr Peter Rothwell and the Waikato Health Memorabilia Trust in 2005 to highlights moments in our time of significant hospital developments.
We also acknowledge our past with artwork such as the 35 quatrefoil shapes on level 1, Meade Clinical Centre by renowned New Zealand artist Max Gimblett ONZM which are a part of a major WW1 commemorative project, titled the Art of Remembrance.
And lest we forget Thames, who heavily commemorates the eight nurses who went to WW1 in 1914-1918 and the service they volunteered for our country. Their roll of honour is at the front entrance of Thames Hospital.
In 2013 Thames raised enough funds to recreate the nurses’ uniforms and the Thames emblem they wore during WW1.
Nurses from Thames Hospital always take part in the parade with eight wearing the WW1 uniforms and the veteran nurses in the lead.
And this year, like every year we will raise our national flag at Waikato Hospital on ANZAC Day, 25 April, flown half-mast from dawn til dusk to honor and remember those who have fought for our freedom we enjoy today.
Dr Nigel Murray, MBE
Photos and past ANZAC celebrations:
Some activities in the Waikato for this ANZAC day