PREPARE FOR ANZAC DAY – Part 2: The Anzac Youth Vigil

One of the more modern customs now associated with Anzac Day activities is the Youth Vigil, in which participants maintain watch overnight around a War Memorial or Cenotaph.

FILE PHOTO: The Catafalque Party at Pioneer Park in Gawler on 23 April 2017 (left to right): CCPL Benjamin Anderson, CCPL Courtney Semmler, CCPL Andrew Paxton and CFSGT Benjamin Kurtz. The Catafalque Party commander (not in picture) was CUO Hayden Skiparis. Photo by Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig.

The concept of the Vigil stems from the military tradition of ‘Holding Ground’ – whereby a reconnaissance patrol or advance party would identify and occupy a strategic position, and hold that position in preparation for the arrival of their main force.

This would often involve an all-night vigil by rostered pickets, soldiers keeping vigilant on watch, alert to ensure that the site is secured against threat.

For the Anzac Vigil, the volunteer youth in attendance mount a formal ‘Holding Ground’ ceremony around a War Memorial from sunset until dawn – usually from about 6pm on Anzac Eve until the start of the Dawn Service on 25 April.

Just before dawn, the youth guard yields to a formal uniformed Catafalque Party, and the Dawn Service follows.

The first Youth Vigil was held in Adelaide in 2001, and the concept has since spread to both metropolitan and regional communities.

In 2015, a record number of Youth Vigils was held in South Australia – 16 in total – including Adelaide, Blackwood, Gawler, Hallett Cove, Mannum, Port Lincoln and Whyalla.

The Youth Vigil is now accepted in Australia, along with the Dawn Service, the Anzac Commemorative March and the Service of Commemoration at the Cross of Sacrifice, as an integral part of the Anzac commemoration.

The Adelaide Youth Vigil will be conducted for the 18th successive year at the South Australian National War Memorial on North Terrace from 6pm on Tuesday 24 April 2018, with a large number of 6 Wing Cadets participating.

AAFC Cadets will have a number of speaking roles, and a senior 6 Wing Cadet holding the position of Parade Commander for the Governor’s opening ceremony.

Beforehand, Army and Air Force Cadets provided drill training to the various other youth organisations involved.

Regionally, No 609 Squadron will participate in the City of Marion Anzac Youth Vigil.

No 619 (City of Onkaparinga) Squadron is a participant in the Youth Vigil at the Morphett Vale Eternal Flame Monument.

And then practically every squadron has an involvement in at least one Dawn Service within their respective geographic areas.

Flying Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig, Public Affairs & Communication Officer for No 6 Wing AAFC, said, “The Anzac Vigil aims to provide young citizens with an opportunity to express, in a tangible way, the increasing interest shown in Anzac Day and other remembrance activities”.

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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

One thought on “PREPARE FOR ANZAC DAY – Part 2: The Anzac Youth Vigil

  • 24/04/2018 at 9:28 pm

    The Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) is a youth oriented organisation which operates in a military and aviation environment. For recruitment enquiries (staff, cadet or as an aviation instructor) in South Australia and Mildura pls contact:
    paco.6wg (at)


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