Record crowds as Aus, NZ mark Anzac Day

2015-04-25 18:45
Veronica Morgan of Australia lays a cross in front of grave stone after the Anzac Day service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, northern France. (Michel Euler, AP)

Veronica Morgan of Australia lays a cross in front of grave stone after the Anzac Day service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, northern France. (Michel Euler, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Record numbers of Australians and New Zealanders turned out on Saturday to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings amid tight security, a formative event that helped forge their identities as independent nations.

Dawn services and parades were held across the two countries on the anniversary of the ill-fated 1915 campaign of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps that left 11 500 of them dead in what is now Turkey during WWI. 

"They loved and were loved in return, were prepared to fight for their beliefs, were, like us, prey to fears and human despair," said Chief of Army David Morrison in an emotive address in Canberra at the Australian War Memorial.

"It makes their sacrifice and their capacity to endure real despite the passage of time."

A record crowd of 120 000 people were on hand to view the solemn service, official figures showed, with tens of thousands more attending events around the country.

In New Zealand, more than 20 000 people witnessed a ceremony at the national war memorial in Wellington, where Governor General Jerry Mateparae was joined by Australian counterpart Peter Cosgrove.

Anzac Day affirmed "the qualities we prize: courage, compassion and comradeship, qualities which were displayed by our troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula and by our armed forces in subsequent conflicts," Mateparae said.

He added that Gallipoli was "the beginning of an eight-month ordeal, an experience which was to be a turning point in the history of this nation".

The battle to open the Dardanelles in 1915 met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders and the Allies lost at least 45 000 soldiers, most of them British and French. An estimated 86 000 died on the Ottoman side.

Many view the bloodshed at Gallipoli as the foundation moment for both of the former British colonies, who were eager to establish their individual reputations.

It was the first time they had fought on such a scale as Australia and New Zealand, with Anzac troops hailed for their comradeship and courage.

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders have made the long journey to join the tributes to their forefathers at Gallipoli, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand's John Key.

Ceremonies there were to start at dawn to remember those who died.

"It means so much to come back and give them the respect they [the troops] deserve," said Marjorie Stevens, 87, from Adelaide, who made the trip to Turkey.

A magnificent defeat 

Security at events across Australia was tight, with a highly visible police presence after authorities last weekend foiled an alleged plot to launch an Islamic State-inspired attack at an Anzac parade in Melbourne.

But police said there was no specific threat on Saturday and Abbott urged people to show up in numbers to send a defiant message to would-be terrorists.

He told national broadcaster ABC that the battle, while a defeat, was a pivotal moment for Australia.

"It was, if I may say so, a magnificent defeat because of the courage, the tenacity, the selflessness, the duty and service that was displayed by our soldiers here," he said.

"We discovered a great deal about ourselves, we discovered a great deal about our Turkish foes - they were honourable foes - that is why there's been a friendship from that day to this.

"We should remember Gallipoli, but we should also remember the terrible victory of the Western Front which Australia played such a significant part," he added.

At the ceremonies in Australia and New Zealand, there were moving tributes to fallen mates and calls not to forget those injured in conflict.

In Melbourne, the city's Federation Square was blanketed in more than 250 000 hand-knitted red poppies while in Sydney wreaths were laid and the last post sounded as a sea of men, women and children bowed their heads and observed a minute's silence.

Brett Smith, 49, took his children to "remember the past and think of the future".

Read more on:    new zealand  |  australia

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.