Accessibility links

Record Crowds Mark Anzac Day in Australia

  • Phil Mercer

A record number of Australians have observed Anzac Day - marking the 90th anniversary of the ill-fated battle in Gallipoli (Turkey) during World War I. Many Australians believe their national identity was forged from the courage and spirit displayed by their troops during that eight-month campaign on the Aegean coastline.

From Tasmania to Brisbane, tens-of-thousands of people have turned out to commemorate a day that for many marks the birth of a nation.

Australian and New Zealand troops - known as Anzacs - formed the core of an ill-fated British-led invasion at Gallipoli in 1915. Ottoman Turks won the eight-month World War I battle, which left more than 100,000 people dead.

Many Australians consider the ill-fated landing in Turkey as the day their young country - a former British penal colony - came of age. It was the first time they had fought under the flag of their newly independent country.

In a nation-wide address Australia's governor-general Michael Jeffery said the campaign that began 90 years ago was a defining moment.

"The exploits of our troops at the bloody beaches and hills of Gallipoli gave birth to a legend based on sustained courage and an infectious humor that forged the powerful beginnings of our national identity, an identity that has been further enhanced by the exploits of our soldiers, sailors and airmen in many conflicts since," he said.

Monday brought record crowds in Sydney while gunfire exploded in Darwin as soldiers re-enacted the Gallipoli landing at dawn.

In New Zealand, large crowds have braved wintry conditions at Anzac Day services up and down the country. A shell fired from a Howitzer gave a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Auckland a spectacular start.

Across the world in Gallipoli, Australian Prime Minister John Howard joined thousands of his compatriots at another dawn service at Anzac Cove. Turkey's prime minister told the Australians and representatives from New Zealand, France, and Britain that friendship now replaces old hatreds.

XS
SM
MD
LG