Monday, April 26, 2010


Landings at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli - 25 April 1915

A reader writes from Down Under:


The media said today there were about 20,000 people at the Australian War Memorial at 0530 for the Dawn Service. I think is was probably about 12,000-14,000, personally. It was very dark . . .

Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The first Dawn service I went to at the AWM was about 1985, and there were no more than 400 to 500 present and it was held inside the Galleries of the Fallen.

Since that nadir, attendance has just kept growing. Something - I do not really understand what - is happening to my countrymen, that attendance at ANZAC Day Dawn Services and marches has grown so much since the 80s. But if you want to try and understand an Australian - attend a Dawn Service. You, of course, know this.

Always surprising to see how many busloads of people, especially school kids, are there. It had poured with rain for much of the night, but they were still there, and would have been if it was still pouring.

The media said there were about 12,000 at the march and daytime Services (1000-1200 local time), they were not far off. After my unit marched past and we got into the stands, I counted about 10,000 people visible to me. Each stand has 1089 seats, making crowd estimation simpler.

There are no more 1914-1918 veterans now, and the ranks of the 1939-1945 men are thinning. Once, we thought that mattered and the lefties celebrated the thought that ANZAC Day would sort of fade away.

Now, we know this to be untrue. As the ranks of the veterans thin, attendance rises.

I think that says something solid about my countrymen.

Mark L


About 40,000 people gathered on a crisp, still morning for the Anzac Day dawn service at the West Australian War Memorial in Perth.

Australian soldiers fix bayonets in preparation for the assault in the Battle of Fromelles, France, 19 July 1916

The Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

"They gave their lives. For that public gift they receive a praise which never ages and a tomb most glorious - not so much the tomb in which they lie, but that in which their fame survives, to be remembered for ever when occasion comes for word and deed." - Pericles' speech over the dead warriors of Athens

My mother took me & my brothers to see the Australian War Memorial during a visit to Canberra in 1974. We have several Australian veterans in our family; my maternal grandfather Bob Leonard had three ships torpedoed out from under him in the early years of World War I and survived, and my uncle Phillip was shot down over Charleroi, Belgium in October of 1941 - his name is engraved upon the inside of the dome in the Hall of Memory of the AWM - when I was stationed in Germany I took my family to visit his grave and we paid our respects - Sean Linnane


  1. Aussies eh? Disrespectful of everything - except the stuff that matters. Cracking people!

    Any Mouse

  2. As a RAAF brat, with family who've served and returned. As a man who failed the medicals in shame.

    We wish the ranks of veterans would naturally thin with time, leaving only our enduring debt and honour. But as i let the tears fall, my brother in law embarks for another country and we wonder why "the job" always seems to be in places so far from home.

    From the Boer War to taday, we answer the call and face the task with all the dignity we can grant ourselves and the people we face.


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