Thousands gather for scaled-back Anzac Day dawn services

Thousands gather across Australia for scaled-back Anzac Day dawn services as leaders praise brave Diggers who made the ultimate sacrifice

  • Last year there was no marches for Anzac Day for the first time in more than 100 years due to Covid pandemic
  • Services and marches were back with limited crowds in most parts of the country on Sunday morning  
  • Sunday marks the 106th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli costing more than 8700 Australians their lives
  • Like last year, many Australians paid tribute at home by standing at the end of their driveways at dawn 
  • At Currumbin beach on the Gold Coast, crowds gathered at dawn to watch surf boats perform a burial at sea 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra
  • Mr Morrison said the service came as Australia prepared to withdraw its last troops from Afghanistan
  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian recited a poem before the Anzac Day address at Sydney’s dawn service 
  • Austrlia lost 41 Australian Defence Force members in Afghanistan out of the more than 39,000 who served 

Australians have gathered across the country in the chilly dawn to mark Anzac Day at public ceremonies for the first time since 2019.

Last year Anzac Day was marked by televised services only and no marches for the first time in more than a century as the COVID-19 pandemic kept people indoors.

Services and marches were back with limited crowds in most parts of the country.

Only services in Western Australia’s Perth and Peel regions were cancelled after a hotel quarantine outbreak led to community virus transmission and the imposition of a three-day lockdown.

Sunday marks the 106th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, a campaign which ultimately cost more than 8700 Australian lives.

Like last year, many Australians paid tribute at home by standing at the end of their driveways at dawn.

Outside of the Sydney CBD, a maximum of 5000 people – excluding spectators – can participate in an outdoor Anzac Day march or dawn service. 

Australians have gathered across the country in the chilly dawn to mark Anzac Day at public ceremonies for the first time since 2019. Pictured: People attend the consular corps wreath-laying ceremony commemorating  in Sydney

NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian poses with members of the Sydney Maori Choir during the Sydney Dawn Service on Sunday morning

Montana Seaman with her partner and serviceman Luke Williams share a moment after the dawn service at Coogee Beach

A young on-looker stands for the Australian national anthem during the Sydney Dawn Service on Sunday morning

A veteran walks next to police officers as they attend the consular corps wreath-laying ceremony commemorating Anzac Day in Sydney

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra that the nation faced a defining moment 12 months ago when the pandemic first reached Australian shores.

‘A moment of uncertainty and danger, when the future seems so uncertain, masked by fog,’ he said in front of about 3,000 people.

‘We could not gather, but we held candles in driveways and on balconies and we played the Last Post on radios and iPhones as some, especially in our west, will do again today.

‘And together we called on our past to light up the dawn, and in doing so, we rediscovered a deep truth about who we are – our strength is found in each other.

‘When we are threatened, when our peace and our safety and our security are imperilled, in these moments our differences fade away.’ 

Mr Morrison acknowledged the service came as Australia prepared to withdraw its last troops from Afghanistan.

‘It has been our longest war. The world is safer from the threat of terrorism than when the Twin Towers were felled almost 20 years ago, but we remain vigilant. However, this has come at a great cost.’

Australia lost 41 Australian Defence Force members in Afghanistan out of the more than 39,000 who served.

Anzac Day services overseas were cancelled, including Australian and New Zealand-led services in Turkey and Australian services in France. People attend the consular corps wreath-laying ceremony commemorating Anzac Day in Sydney

An Australian Army soldier stands as people attend the consular corps wreath-laying ceremony commemorating Anzac Day in Sydney

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian attends the consular corps wreath-laying ceremony commemorating Anzac Day in Sydney

Australians are seen paying their respects at the eternal flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne

Crowds gather during the Sydney Dawn Service

The Victorian government placed restrictions on attendance numbers at Anzac Day services in Melbourne. Pictured are two sldiers chatting through a fence

Melburnians paid their respects on Sunday by standing behind a fence after the city’s dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance of restricted to 1400 

Attendees waited outside Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance before 1400 were allowed through the gates

Labor leader Anthony Albanese, who attended a dawn service in Balmain, said it was a difficult time for current and former service personnel with the release of the Brereton report into alleged Afghan war crimes, the announcement of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and pending royal commission into veterans’ suicide.

‘This is why it is important this Anzac Day to show our respect for all those who serve, but particularly the current generation of men and women who keep us safe in an increasingly challenging world,’ he said in a statement.

Mr Albanese said for many war does not end when they leave the battlefield.

‘It comes as some relief that, after a long campaign by relatives who’ve lost love ones, there will finally be a royal commission into veteran suicide,’ he said.

‘This year alone, we have already lost 18 to suicide – and it is only April.

‘To them, and all those who have gone before, and those who are at any risk now, we owe them this much at the very least.’

He said many veterans had been fortunate to ‘turn the weight of war into something else’, noting the life and work of his mentor and friend WWII veteran Tom Uren.

Anzac Day services overseas were cancelled, including Australian and New Zealand-led services in Turkey and Australian services in France.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the manner of commemoration was less important than the act of doing so.

‘In remembering the original Anzacs – and those that followed them – we not only recall their deeds, but also recognise the best qualities that defined them.’ 

A strong presence of police enforced the 1400-crowd limit at a dawn service in Melbourne while many others paid their respects behind fences

Wreaths are laid to commemorate Anzac Day at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

Sunday marks the 106th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, a campaign which ultimately cost more than 8700 Australian lives

Alastair Tomkins, joined by his wife Katie and their sons Hugo, 9, (left) and Lyndon, 6, stand in silence after playing The Last Post in their driveway, at dawn, as neighbours stand outside their homes to commemorate Anzac Day in Brisbane

Australia lost 41 Australian Defence Force members in Afghanistan out of the more than 39,000 who served. Pictured: Sydey dawn service

People gather on Currumbin beach to watch surf boats perform a burial at sea

Crowds gathered on Currumbin beach on the Gold Coast to pay their respects to the fallen Diggers 

Anzac day is traditionally marked by a dawn service held during the time of the original Gallipoli landing and commemorated with ceremonies and parades throughout the day. Pictured: crowds on Currumbin beach

People gather on Currumbin beach to watch surf boats perform a burial at sea on April 25 in Currumbin on the Gold Coast

Mr Dutton also paid tribute to all past and current Australians who have served in the military, saying they had ‘fought to end evil and topple tyranny’, with many returning home physically or mentally scarred.

Chief of Defence Angus Campbell said current members of the ADF have a lot to be proud of.

 ‘Every day I see our people humbly carry out their duty with excellence and initiative, and display great mateship. This is the essence of the Anzac Spirit,’ he said.

‘We remember and honour those who went before us from the Gallipoli landing in 1915 through to the campaigns and operations of today.’

Governor-General David Hurley and Mrs Hurley spent Anzac Day in the NT, attending the Darwin dawn service, before travelling to Katherine.

Mr Hurley said Anzac Day was ‘not just about history, it is very much about the here and now’.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian recited a poem before the Anzac Day address by Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi, Air Commander Australia.

Like last year, many Australians paid tribute at home by standing at the end of their driveways at dawn

Families take to their driveways with candles to pay their respects to the fallen Diggers in Brisbane

Chief of Defence Angus Campbell said current members of the ADF have a lot to be proud of. Pictured: A soldier gathers at Currumbin beach

People gather on Currumbin beach to watch surf boats perform a burial at sea early on Sunday morning

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian recited a poem before the Anzac Day address by Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi, Air Commander Australia

Australian soldiers take their positions next to the Cenotaph national war memorial during the Anzac Day dawn service in Sydney

Indigenous Elder RAAF, Harry Allie speaks during the Sydney Dawn Service

The Last Post was then played in the Sydney dark.

Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi told the story of Lieutenant George Merz, an Australian aviator supporting the British World War I effort in Mesopotamia in 1915 when his plane was forced down along the Tigris-Euphrates river.

Lt Merz and Kiwi co-pilot Lieutenant William Burn were then attacked by Arab Bedouin, becoming their nations’ first air crew killed in combat.

‘The stories of these Australians are the stories of service,’ he said.

‘They exemplified our values of courage, respect, integrity and excellence … none sought glory, but all sacrificed their lives in the service of our nation.’  

At Currumbin beach on the Gold Coast, hordes of Queenslanders gathered at dawn to pay their respects to the fallen Diggers.

At Currumbin beach on the Gold Coast, hordes of Queenslanders gathered at dawn to pay their respects to the fallen Diggers

People braved the frigid temperatures to watch on as surf boats performed a burial at sea as the sun rose

People braved the frigid temperatures to watch on as surf boats performed a burial at sea as the sun rose. 

 As one of the few surviving 9th Division ex-servicemen of World War II, Dennis Davis – who at Tobruk in 1941 helped defend the Libyan city’s port from Nazi control – on Sunday marched alongside RSL NSW president Ray James.

‘It’s first of all a remembrance of what we went through,’ Mr Davis said.

‘We didn’t know we were making history … I was a Rat of Tobruk, the siege of Tobruk, one of the longest sieges in the British Empire.’

And for Ms Brown, April 25 is about family as much as service.

‘I absolutely love travelling into town with Pop and being with Pop and just the way people respond to him, the thanks people give,’ she said.

Joined by a handful of other residents, Mr Davis stood outside with candle in hand and Australian flag nearby, listening to The Last Post via radio.

He was glad normal service has resumed in 2021, with the coronavirus largely contained in NSW and life returning to something resembling normal.

‘We tried to get the whole village out but it wasn’t possible,’ he said.

‘Three or four of us went out, we kept distance at the time.’

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