Australia

Anzac Day: Servicewomen lead marches across Australia

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Thousands of people have lined the streets of Australia's capital cites for traditional Anzac Day marches to honour current and former servicemen and women.

Sydney

Thousands of people have gathered in the rain to watch more than 16,000 servicemen and women march through Sydney's CBD on Anzac Day.

Thousands have gathered in Sydney's CBD for this year's Anzac Day parade which, for the first time, is being led by hundreds of female veterans.

Rain has not deterred crowds from lining Elizabeth Street to watch more than 16,000 servicemen and women march to commemorate 103 years since troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.

A girl looks round as she watches the Anzac Day march in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
A girl looks round as she watches the Anzac Day march in Sydney, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Among those at the head of the parade will be 100-year-old Molly Cummings, who is honouring her many family members who have served for Australia.

Canberra

Carved in cursive writing on the back of the violin he took to war are the names of Bob Semple's gun crew.

More than seventy years on, his violin case still contains grains of desert sand from his time serving in Libya in north Africa.

It's the same sand in which 10 of his mates were buried, after they were killed by a single shell.

One of the last surviving Rats of Tobruk, Mr Semple, who turns 98 next month, will reflect on his experiences in the Second World War at the Anzac Day national service in Canberra on Wednesday.

"My crew were blokes that were nearly all farmers and they were wonderful. What they could do with a piece of wire," he told the Australian War Memorial ahead of Anzac Day.

"I would not swap any one of those blokes for all the money in the world. It was a bond that could be even more powerful than your own wife or your own family."

Western Australia's new Governor and former defence minister Kim Beazley will also address the crowd.

Governor General Peter Cosgrove, who served in Vietnam and East Timor, and went on the become chief of the defence force, will be among the dignitaries at the service.

This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in Turkey and the centenary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front in France.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out to watch the veterans parade.

Melbourne

Contemporary veterans are for the first time leading Melbourne's traditional Anzac Day march, with thousands of people taking part.

"It reflects the changing face of our veteran community," Victoria's RSL President Robert Webster told AAP after Wednesday's dawn service.

Members from the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (L-R) Peter Diwell, Owen Marshall, Vilai Wilson, Laurie Wilson, Ronald Lee, Doug Patterson, and John O'Regan.
Members from the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia.
AAP

"It's right that we honour them (contemporary veterans).

"Some of them have been through some pretty rough times ... some of them have done six and seven rotations through Afghanistan and various places."

Previously led by the descendants of World War I veterans, the march began at Flinders Street station, working its way down St Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance.

Up to 12,000 people were expected to take part in the 2018 march, with the strong numbers attributed largely to dry and mild weather.

It follows a packed dawn service attended by nearly 35,000 people who were for the first time addressed by a military woman.

"My medals represent ... medical battles with scalpels, antiseptic, blood and dressing," Group Captain Annette Holian told the pre-dawn crowd.

One former soldier at the Shrine said he saw the day as more about his father and grandfather than him.

"I still never see today as respect for me," he told AAP.

Brisbane

The skies have cleared as thousands gather in Brisbane to watch a march through the city as part of Anzac Day commemorations.

Women are seen marching through Brisbane as part of the By the Left group during Anzac Day commemorations in Brisbane, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Women are seen marching through Brisbane as part of the By the Left group during Anzac Day commemorations in Brisbane, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Onlookers took up spots along George, Adelaide and Creek streets, with crowds of between 40,000 and 60,000 people expected.

A new memorial plaque honouring the 52nd Battalion was unveiled on Tuesday at the Brisbane's Anzac Memorial Crypt, 100 years after the WWI Battle of Villers- Bretonneux in France.

Darwin

Women who are current or former defence force members have received loud cheers while leading the Anzac Day march in Darwin for the first time.

The Returned and Services League recently decided women should lead the march, both as an endorsement of inclusivity and to highlight the work women do in the armed services and as veterans.

Darwin is a military town with 12,000 forces living there, and large numbers of serving personnel participated in the march.

Adelaide

Streets are closed and spectators of all ages are gathering ahead of the annual Anzac Day march in Adelaide.

Veterans wearing medals and bearing flags have taken up position in the starting area in preparation for the event to begin.

The commemorative march will start at 9.30am from the South Australian National War Memorial and turn right onto King William Rd.

Veterans marching during the parade in Adelaide, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
Veterans marching during the parade in Adelaide, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.
AAP

Veterans, serving personnel and descendants will be split into 20 groups, depending on where and when they, or a relative, served.

This year, for the first time, women's service groups will march consecutively as part of the By The Left campaign, which aims to raise the profile of female veterans.

The Cross of Sacrifice Ceremony will take place after the march, upon the arrival of Governor Hieu Van Le, and the public will be invited to the Torrens Parade Ground for entertainment including the traditional wartime game two-up.

Hobart

Spectators have lined the streets in Hobart for the annual Anzac Day march.

Servicewomen will for the first time lead veterans, descendants and serving personnel as the march weaves through Tasmania's capital.

Premier Will Hodgman will make a formal address shortly before midday at the Hobart Cenotaph, where thousands attended the dawn service earlier on Wednesday.

Perth

About 6000 people are lining the streets of Perth's CBD for the annual Anzac Day march.

For the first time, descendants of Chinese veterans will join their World War Two allies in recognition of the fight against the Japanese Imperial Army.

Earlier, about 30,000 people attended the dawn service at Kings Park and many also stayed to watch an Aboriginal corroboree and Maori haka performance.

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