News National Thousands attend Anzac Day services

Thousands attend Anzac Day services

The Last Post is played at Hobart's cenotaph.
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Anzac commemorations have been held across the nation and the world as Australia and New Zealand paid tribute to those who have served and died in war.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of towns and cities around Australia after attending dawn services commemorating the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

The focus later shifted to Gallipoli, where Wing Commander Darren Cockcroft was the master of ceremonies at this year’s Anzac Day service, and Villers-Bretonneux, in northern France, where Governor-General Peter Cosgrove spoke of the “admiration and respect” for those who lost their lives a century ago.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attended the national Anzac Day service in Canberra.

Mr Turnbull gave the commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial (AWM), thanking Australian servicemen and women serving today and serving in years past.

“You have kept us safe,” he said.

“One hundred years ago today, Australians at home and abroad, along the far-flung battle line, gathered for the first time to remember the landing at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915.

“Shocking as the losses of the Anzacs and their British and French comrades were, we remember too the immense sacrifice of the Turkish people, defending their country.”

Keith Ross signed up and served in PNG and New Guinea and was sent home at 16 when the force realised he had lied about his age.
Keith Ross signed up and served in PNG and New Guinea and was sent home at 16 when the force realised he had lied about his age. Photo: ABC

He said Australia and allies including Turkey were currently facing a “war fought both abroad and at home and in every dimension.”

“The war against terrorism is fought in every dimension … but the single most important priority is to defeat Daesh (Islamic State) in the field, in Syria and Iraq,” he said.

Mr Turnbull also reflected on this morning’s dawn service in Bondi before concluding with, “we will remember them.”

Across the nation

In every state people gathered to commemorate Anzac Day at dawn services and parades.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the first Anzac Day parades in Australia, and thousands gathered to applaud parades in towns and cities including Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who served their countries.

“Today we pay particular tribute to our dedicated and professional defence personnel, 2200 currently overseas supporting Australia’s interests,” he told the crowd in Brisbane’s Anzac Square.

Crowds of about 55,000 turned out in chilly autumn weather in Canberra to pay their respects at the dawn service, where AWM director Brendan Nelson said the values of the Anzacs were ingrained in Australian culture more than ever.

“Young Australians and New Zealanders gave their all at Gallipoli and forged in bloody sacrifice the bond within which our two nations now live,” he said.

More than 40,000 people also gathered for the dawn service at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance with Vietnam War veterans leading the march to the shrine for the first time, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

In Adelaide, the chairman of South Australia’s Anzac Day committee, Ian Smith, said today’s 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings was an occasion to reflect on the tragedy of war, rather than military glory.

Large services also took place in Tasmania and Darwin, where crowds gathered to watch veterans as they marched in Anzac Day parades.

Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: ABC

Hundreds gathered at Darwin’s cenotaph where the first wreath was laid in honour of Private Scott Palmer, a commando from Katherine who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

Commander of the Darwin-based 1st Brigade, Brigadier Ben James, addressed the service and reminded those that the valour and sacrifice of the first Anzacs lives on in those currently serving Australia.

“[The spirit lives on] from those who serve in the deserts of South Sudan, those who serve on the seas to keep our borders safe, and the visits of Iraq and Afghanistan where soldiers from the 1st Brigade are today preparing to serve once again,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brisbane’s Anzac Square overflowed with thousands of people who paid their respects to Australia’s fallen soldiers.

Crowds gathered in silence well before the start of the service at 4:28am to find the best vantage points of the city’s Shrine of Remembrance at Anzac Square on Adelaide Street.

In Hobart large services were held at the city’s Cenotaph and at Kingston Beach to the south of the city as well as many other smaller services at local war memorials.

Anzac Day brings together veterans, both old and new

Matt and Nina Gelton travelled to Melbourne from Brisbane for the dawn service.

Poppies are laid on Darwin's War Memorial during the dawn service.
Poppies are laid on Darwin’s War Memorial during the dawn service. Photo: ABC

“I’m serving in the Army at the moment, so 27 years now, and been fortunate enough to serve overseas a number of times,” Mr Gelton said.

“I was in Iraq last year, been in Afghanistan, East Timor and Solomon Islands.

“The main thing I appreciate is seeing the older veterans, who always like to come over and have a bit of a chat to the younger guys.”

Russell Pearson brought his daughters along to the dawn service, saying his brother is currently serving in the Army.

“It starts to mean a little bit more when he goes overseas,” he said.

“My grandparents were in different wars. But once its your brother and he goes overseas and sees real action it comes close to home.”

Veteran Ross Wilson said seven generations of his family served, and it was humbling to see so many people turn out.

“Anzac Day is more Australia Day than Australia Day is,” he said.

For Amanda Steff, attending the dawn service was a family tradition.

“We usually do it in Port Pirie in South Australia, so it’s very special to be here in Melbourne today,” she said.

Soldier ‘carry the burden’ of their service

Speaking at the Melbourne service, Vice Admiral David Johnson from the Royal Australian Navy said Anzac Day was the country’s “most solemn day of national reflection”.

“Commemorating the men and women who served and continue to serve our nation proudly, courageously and selflessly,” he said.

“Many paid the ultimate sacrifice, never to see our wonderful shores, their home, friends, family, or loved ones again.

“Others came home carrying the burden of their service, both physically and mentally.

“It is with this sentiment we stand together with dawn looming in front of one of Melbourne’s and the nation’s iconic landmarks.

“It is a building of reference, reflection, solace, a place Victorians can visit during times of deep loss and loneliness, a memorial for both private or, as we do today, collective remembrance.”

-with AAP

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