knox grammar school


Anzac Day traditions

For almost 100 years, Anzac Day has formed a significant part of Knox’s heritage. Each year, the School honours those who served and those who lost their lives in battle, particularly our fallen Old Boys, by attending services around the country and in later years, through hosting our own service.

Knox took part in its first public outing to commemorate Anzac Day on Saturday 25 April 1924. Joining other Presbyterian schools, 28 Knox students caught the train and ferry and marched to St Stephen’s Church in Phillip Street to attend an Anzac Day Service. Knox’s founding Headmaster, Mr Neil MacNeil, delivered the Reading. From that year on, Knox students attended the service, participating by singing hymns and reading psalms.

In 1931, Knox held its first Anzac Day Service in Rooms 25 and 26 of the Main School Building, the first assembly hall. The students were addressed by the Reverend C.E. James of St John’s Presbyterian Church Wahroonga (now called St John’s Uniting Church) and afterwards paraded in their new blue Cadet uniforms, proudly marching past the flag. This particular march sowed the seeds of a new tradition: public performance. Our Cadets and their bands proceeded to take part in community commemorations, including the current Memorial Service for the Old Knox Grammarians’ Association and Ceremonial Parade of the Knox Grammar Cadet Unit.

With the outbreak of WWII, the services held further solemnity with the remembrance of recent Old Boys; those who were serving and those who had died in the war. The School had grown by 1940, so the Anzac Day Service was held in the old gymnasium (presently the Innovation and Design Centre). The 1944 Anzac Day Service saw the first parade take place, with the introduction of a Colour Party and drummers the following year. In 1946, the School Council hosted parents of fallen Old Boys at the inaugural OKGA Memorial Service and Ceremonial Parade. During the 1950s, the establishment of the War Memorial Quadrangle and Old Boys' Memorial, including the Knox Roll of Honour, provided a new location for the School’s annual services.

Anzac Day 1945

By the 1960s and 1970s, the formal proceedings of the Old Boys’ Memorial Service and the Ceremonial Cadet Parade had become cemented in the local community calendar and were known to attract large crowds.

From 2020, the Anzac Memorial Service has been held on Knox 1 Oval to accommodate the growing numbers of Cadets, members of the Pipes and Drums and the community. The Cadet Unit and Pipe and Drums not only play a role in commemorative services at Knox, but also participate in services across Sydney, including the City March and the National Commemorative Service in Canberra.

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