Estimated 120,000 attend Canberra dawn service

The names of the fallen were displayed in large letters on the Australian War Memorial and the haunting strains of a didgeridoo were heard as Canberra's dawn service commemorated the events of a century ago.

Source: Breakfast

The names on the fascia of the War Memorial were accompanied by projected photographs of the soldiers.

Army chief Lieutenant General David said the sepia-tone images gave a sense that those who fought in the Great War were somehow different, a generation set apart.

But in his moving address to the record dawn service crowd, General Morrison said on another level there was little to separate them from those who now gathered to remember.

"We have not forgotten and we are defined at least in part by that act of remembrance. It makes us who we are and reminds us in the face of an unknown future, who we can be, courageous and compassionate, resolute and resilient, a people of our own time," he said.

Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said an estimated 120,000 had turned out for the Canberra Anzac centenary dawn service, far in excess of expectations and more than three times the 37,000 who attended last year.

Police estimated a smaller gathering of some 60,000 but still a record.

In the chill Canberra morning, the crowd filled the open area in the front of the war memorial and beyond.

With Governor-General Peter Cosgrove in New Zealand and Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Turkey, the senior representative at the service was the administrator of the Commonwealth, the senior state governor, Victoria's Alex Chernov.

As the reverent crowd assembled, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Dan Keighran read extracts from letters and diaries of those who served on Gallipoli.

They included the words of Melbourne accountant Lieutenant Alan Henderson penned on the eve of the landing.

"It is going to be Australia's chance to make a tradition of this that you must always look back on. God grant it will be a great one," he said.

Dr Nelson said the dawn service had done the original Anzacs proud.

"It says a great deal about our nation. It says a great deal about the men and women who have come out to honour those who have served and serve our country," he told reporters.

Corporal Keighran said World War I was a vast human tragedy which had profound, devastating enduring consequences for all Australians.

He said he felt part of the Anzac tradition.

"That mateship is still very much alive and there in the Australian Defence Force," he said.