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Birthplace of the Australian Dawn Service Tradition

Arthur Ernest White served as an army chaplain with the 44th Battalion, enlisting in 1916. It is understood that in February 1918 Padre White celebrated a private Requiem Mass for the battle dead at St John’s Anglican Church in Albany.

At 6am on 25th April 1930, it is recorded in the church service register that Padre White celebrated a dawn Eucharist commemorating ANZAC Day. After wreaths were laid at the nearby war memorial it is believed that Padre White, with some of the congregation, proceeded up a bush track to the top of Mt Clarence where an observance took place of a boatman laying a wreath in King George’s Sound.

The notation alongside the service entry in the church register reads “Procession to memorial, wreaths laid. Collection for the Distressed Soldier Fund” and “First Dawn Service held in Australia”. It is written in Arthur White’s hand.

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It is the recorded events of this day which mark the birth of the first dawn service tradition in Albany.

While there are differing accounts of the date of the first Australian dawn service, it is certain that Padre White contributed to this Anzac tradition and Albany lays claim to the location to hold the first Australian Dawn Service on 25 April 1930.

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