'Our heroes don’t just belong to the past': Australians mark Anzac Day across the nation


Thousands of people have have gathered across the country to honour Australia's servicemen and women.

Anzac Day marches have begun across the nation, with tens of thousands lining the streets to commemorate 104 years since troops landed in Gallipoli.

In Melbourne, World War II veteran Sam Krycer still has the samurai sword he picked up in Indonesia when the Japanese surrendered.

Navy personnel take part in the Anzac Day march in Melbourne, Thursday, April 25, 2019. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING
Sailors take part in the 2019 Anzac day march in Melbourne.

The 100-year-old former leading aircraftman led Melbourne's Anzac Day march to the Shrine of Remembrance on Thursday, alongside other surviving Second World War veterans.

"It gets a bit emotional for me today. I didn't expect all of that," Mr Krycer told AAP of the scale of Thursday's proceedings.

In Sydney, Bill Hyde sported the uniform of the NSW Scottish Regimental Association.

Second World War veteran Sam Krycer, 100, stands in front of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
Second World War veteran Sam Krycer, 100, stands in front of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

The 64-year-old has a host of World War I medals on his chest belonging both to his grandfather, who served in the British Army, and his uncle, who fought for Australia.

Army personnel take part in the Anzac Day march in Melbourne, Thursday, April 25, 2019. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING

Australians paused this morning to remember and mark those who have fallen at dawn and morning services. 

As Australians gathered to pay tribute to the nation's servicemen and women on Anzac Day, one in particular was on Scott Morrison's mind.

Vietnam Veteran Gram Fernnell is seen during the Anzac day dawn service at the War Memorial on North Terrace in Adelaide.

The prime minister told a group of Australian troops and Darwin-based US Marines that he'll be thinking of the stretcher-bearer of whom he has a statue in his office.

"I'll be remembering Leslie 'Bull' Allen, in particular, because of what it means for our relationship between Australia and the United States," he said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets with sailors at Robertson Barracks in Darwin.

Under heavy Japanese fire in July 1943, the corporal from Queensland carried a dozen wounded Americans to safety down the slopes of New Guinea's Mount Tambu.

He was awarded the US Silver Star for his heroism.

Mr Morrison says life wasn't easy for the corporal before World War II, when he experienced violence as a child.

Nor was it easy when he returned, serving as a reminder of the tough time servicemen and women can experience once they're home.

"They're still fighting the battles that have left the battlefield long ago," the prime minister said.

Australian opposition Leader Bill Shorten lays a wreath during the dawn service in Darwin.

"We'll remember our duty to our veterans and we'll say thank you for their service, and as a government, we'll continue to say thank you for their service by honouring them with the services we must extend to them."

Mr Morrison attended a dawn service in Townsville, where he met with the veterans and their families.

"Our heroes don't just belong to the past; they live with us today," he said.

"They are a generation who also deserve to be remembered and honoured here today.

"The call of the original Anzacs echoes on their chests today."

In Darwin, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten reflected on the Japanese bombing campaign of WWII as he attended an Anzac Day service. 

Members of the 324 Squadron stand in formation during the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach.

"Seventy-seven years ago, bare metres from here and in the waters behind us ... Japanese bombs brought war to Australia," Mr Shorten told the thousands gathered by the waterside.

Acknowledging the sacrifice of the first Anzacs - allied Australian and New Zealand troops deployed shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time during the Gallipoli campaign - the Labor leader also paid tribute to those who followed in their footsteps.

"The peace we live, the democracy we vote in, the fact we can gather here today with family and friends to share a meal and raise a glass under the beautiful territory sky," he said.

"We can live our lives because of Australians who gave theirs, and because of those who serve us still, in the uniform of our nation."

Anzac Day dawn service in Canberra
Anzac Day dawn service in Canberra

Sydney remembers

More than 5,000 people from Sydney and beyond crammed into Martin Place for the Anzac Day dawn service.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Governor David Hurley and the Army's second highest official Major General Greg Bilton were among those addressing the 93rd annual service at The Cenotaph.

"I used to come here years ago and it'd be a couple hundred people but now it's thousands," Terrance Coffey, the son of a World War II veteran, told AAP on Thursday.

Cadets during the Anzac Day dawn service at Elephant Rock, Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast.

"It's my way of remembering Dad. Anzac Day was the way he got together with all his mates from the war."

Young and old at Brisbane's dawn service

Veterans, families and locals gathered before dawn in the Brisbane CBD to commemorate Anzac Day, the first at the refurbished Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square.

General view during the Anzac Day dawn service at Elephant Rock, Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast, Thursday, April 25, 2019.

In the lead up to the service, RSL Queensland president Tony Ferris said it was vital that the significance of Anzac Day was shared with future generations because there was just a handful of surviving World War Two veterans.

Among those future generations to arrive on the cool morning was 15-year-old Will Purcell who said he felt it was important to pay remember the Anzacs, and his great grandfather who fought in WWII.

Crowds flock to Melbourne dawn service

Thousands of people are arriving at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance for the city's Anzac Day dawn service, including an Afghanistan veteran.

Since serving in Afghanistan, Damien McGee comes to Melbourne's Anzac Day dawn service to remember the little things.

Crowds gather during the Anzac Day dawn service in front of the perpetual flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

He's one of thousands of people pouring into the city's Shrine of Remembrance for Thursday's early morning commemorations.

After serving in the infantry in Afghanistan, Mr McGee says he comes year after year to remember "the small things that we have here in Australia that we generally take for granted".

Lest we forget ✨ thousands turn out for Parramatta’s dawn service @SBSNews #AnzacDay

— Charlotte Lam (@lottie_lam) April 24, 2019

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews urged Australians to "remember those who served and came home... remember all who carry the wounds of battle and who, long after  the healing, still battle the demons of conflict".

"Perhaps above all, remember that in everything we do, it is for us, each and every one of us, to prove worthy of their service and sacrifice," he said.

VC hero addresses Canberra crowd 

VC recipient Mark Donaldson has addressed the large crowd gathered in front of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Thousands have descended on the war memorial to pay tribute to the nation's servicemen and women 104 years after the Gallipoli landing.

Corporal Donaldson, VC, who a decade ago became the first recipient of Australia's highest military honour for bravery in more than 40 years, provided the ceremony's address.

That honour came a few months after he rescued a coalition forces interpreter from heavy fire in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

A bronze digger statue has been unveiled at this year’s ANZAC service in Parramatta, it was commissioned in 2018 to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice #ANZACDay2019

— Charlotte Lam (@lottie_lam) April 24, 2019

But today in Canberra, it was the sacrifices of others of which he spoke.

Those included the actions of oldest living Victoria Cross recipient, Keith Payne, aged 85.

He received the honour for rescuing fellow soldiers while under enemy fire and suffering his own injuries during the Battle of Ben Het in 1969.

Corporal Donaldson said all Austrians had an obligation to such people.

A member of the Catafalque party is seen next to the cenotaph in Darwin.

"We honour their sacrifice by living a good life in support of others, respecting the freedoms given us and inspiring others to build a better Australia and a stronger Anzac spirit," he told the crowd of thousands of people.

"We should strive to be worthy of these sacrifices made for us."

Following Corporal Donaldson's address, junior Legatee Miss Diana Marschall read an extract from the poem In Flanders Fields, written by John McCrae while serving in Belgium. McCrae died during the First World War on the Western Front.

Thousands gather in Perth for Anzac Day

More than 20,000 people have gathered at Kings Park State War Memorial in Perth for the Anzac Day dawn service.

Among the dignitaries attending are West Australian Governor Kim Beazley, while Premier Mark McGowan will deliver the address.

A sailor and his daughter in Adelaide, following the early service.

The service will also be viewed on six large screens surrounding the commemorative site where there appears to be a boosted security presence.

Afterwards, there will be a Haka for Life performance at Kings Park and a gunfire breakfast at Government House Gardens preceding the annual city march.

The descendants of Turkish soldiers who fought in Gallipoli proudly march in ANZAC Day commemorations
The descendants of Turkish soldiers who fought in Gallipoli proudly march in ANZAC Day commemorations

'Innocence stolen'

In the shadow of iconic Elephant Rock, on the Gold Coast, a crowd of more than 20,000 gathered to pay tribute to our servicemen and women for Anzac Day.

The rock glowed, bathed in the red light, reminiscent of the soaring cliffs of Gallipoli.

A crowd of more than 20,000 crammed on to the beach and lined the streets, breaking their silence only to applaud the arrival of a host of veterans.

Anzac Day dawn service at Elephant Rock, Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast.

The service, one of the biggest regional services in Queensland, began with a lone piper from the top of the rock where Australian and New Zealand flags flew at half-mast on Thursday.

Currumbin RSL president Michael Humphreys said war stole the innocence of a nation.

Afghanistan veteran Andy Cullen said Anzac Day was difficult for many veterans.

"It is a sad reminder of friends lost and sacrifices made and wounds that may not heal," he said.

People gather at the Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square in Brisbane.

He said more than 33,000 Australians had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving 41 dead and 261 wounded.

"No one can underestimate the price that has been paid by individuals and families .... because there are hundreds, if not thousands, who are carrying the physical and psychological injuries and will do for years to come."

He said from 2001 to 2016 there were 373 recorded suicides in the ADF community.

"We must do more to help the individuals and families who suffer."

The service will conclude with an emotional burial at sea where the ashes of 33 servicemen will be scattered on the waves by local rowers from surf lifesaving clubs.

Lifeline 13 11 14

For sale: a giant, ornery bird that killed its last owner

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch