Gillard honours Anzacs at Gallipoli

A veteran is brought to tears during the dawn service at Sydney's Martin Place Cenotaph. [Getty Images: Brendon Thorne]
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A veteran is brought to tears during the dawn service at Sydney's Martin Place Cenotaph. [Getty Images: Brendon Thorne]

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Created: 25/04/2012

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Anne Barker and staff

Last Updated: Wed, 25 Apr 2012 21:01:00 +1000

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has joined thousands of Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipoli for the annual Anzac Day dawn service 97 years after Australian Imperial Forces landed at Gallipoli.

Some 6,000 pilgrims - mostly Australians and New Zealanders - slept rough, or stayed up all evening, to position themselves for the service.

Ms Gillard cited the Gallipoli campaign as Australia's first act of nationhood.

"This is a place hallowed by sacrifice and loss. It is too, a place shining with honour, and honour of the most vivid kind," she said.

Ms Gillard paid tribute to the 8,700 Australians who died during the Anzac campaign, describing how, so far from home, they and their comrades "longed for the shape and scent of the gum and the wattle".

"[The Anzacs] remembered places called Weipa and Woolloomooloo, Toowoomba and Swan Hill. This is the legend of Anzac, and it belongs to every Australian," the Prime Minister said.

Ms Gillard also paid special tribute to Turkey for its enduring generosity toward Australia in preserving so many Anzac graves, and naming areas of the Gallipoli peninsula after the Anzac tradition.

"We therefore owe the Republic of Turkey a profound debt," she said.

"A worthy foe has proved to be an even greater friend."

Some two-thirds of the 130,000 fatalities during the campaign were Turkish, but the Prime Minister pointed out there is no lasting animosity between opposing sides.

Ms Gillard later attended a service at Lone Pine, the site of some of the worst fighting in 1915.

On the Western Front

Meanwhile, the French town of Villers-Bretonneux has marked Anzac Day on the Western Front, where 46,000 Australians lost their lives during World War I.

In April 1918, the town was the scene of a massive German offensive, that turned into an important victory for Australian and British troops.

A memorial dedicated in the town in 1938 includes the names of some 11,000 Australian soldiers, with the graves of 780 Australians in the cemetery nearby.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon says Villers-Bretonneux is a symbol of the sacrifices made by Australians during World War I.

"Of the more than 295,000 Australians who served on the Western Front, some 46,000 made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

"The extent of our losses here on the Western Front was so profound, it would forever shape our view of ourselves and of the world. Etched into our psyche, like Gallipoli, it is central to our national story."

Tongan service

Tonga's new King, Tupou VI, laid a wreath at a dawn service in the capital Nukualofa to commemorate Anzac Day.

A platoon of Tongan soldiers fought in World War Two and some troops served in Australian and New Zealand armies in World War One.

Tongan broadcaster Monalisa Palu told Radio Australia the day is significant for the Pacific region.

"It shouldn't only be for World War One and World War Two," he said. "Now Tongans here are saying that we should also include those that are joining the contingencies to Afghanistan and Iraq, so it's expanding and it's a very important day for Tonga."

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