The impact of a war dating back almost a century continues to resonate keenly with Australians.
In Canberra the ever increasing crowds were joined by the nation’s leaders, royalty and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove – himself a former chief of the Defence Force – to pay tribute to the Anzac legend.
The Australian War Memorial estimates 37,000 people turned out for its dawn service on Friday, an increase of some 2000 from 2013.
The events in Gallipoli 99 years ago still cast a shadow, Prime Minister Tony Abbott told a mid-morning service.
“The First World War impacted Australia like nothing before or since.”
As Aussie diggers landed at Anzac Cove on the Turkish coastline in 1915 the sacrifice was “stupendous” the prime minister said.
Wreaths were laid, while all eyes were on Prince William and wife Catherine who added poppies to the wall of remembrance, placed flowers on the tomb of the unknown soldier and planted a tree.
From a population of five million, 417,000 Australians enlisted for World War I service with some 62,000 killed and 152,000 wounded.
During a dawn service address, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith spoke of Australia’s longest war, that in Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of 40 soldiers.
These were men who like their forefathers believed our safety, freedom and way of life were more important than their own suffering and loss.
“Proud, willing and capable men who did what needed to be done,” he said.
Corporal Roberts-Smith said Australia’s war in Afghanistan was coming to an end but for those wounded it would never end.
He asked that Australians never forget those who have fought for their country.
“We are Australians, we are born of the Anzacs. We are the custodians and stewards of their spirit now and into the future. We must take good care of them.”
Corporal Roberts-Smith was joined by fellow VC recipients, Warrant Officer Keith Payne, and Corporals Daniel Keighran and Mark Donaldson, to lead the veterans’ march.