Large crowds gather for Anzac Day

CLEAR, cool conditions greeted thousands of people at Anzac Day Dawn Services across the Hunter yesterday before large crowds gathered in full sun at later ceremonies to keep the Anzac spirit alive.

Schoolchildren wearing medals marched alongside veterans and active service men and women to honour the fallen, and all those who have served in Australia's name.

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Click on the image above for more pictures of ANZAC Day in the Hunter.

Wars are to be avoided, those gathered at Nelson Bay were told, but when necessary we must stand up for our values.

The Anzac spirit, made of mateship, unselfishness, courage and tenacity, existed in each one of us, Wing Commander Todd Yurkowski, of Williamtown RAAF base, told the crowd of about 2000 people.

Hundreds waited in Nelson Bay's Stockton Street to cheer those taking part in the Anzac Day march to Apex Park, where more people lined the hillside.

It was the biggest Anzac Day march and service in Nelson Bay in two decades, organisers said, with special guests including veterans from 86th Transport Platoon (RAASC) Vietnam.

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Pictures by Darren Pateman

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In Newcastle, about 8000 people huddled and shivered at Camp Shortland for the Dawn Service during which children and veterans stood silent.

This year's Anzac celebrations mark 70 years since Japanese attacks on Australia during World War II, including the attack on Newcastle on June 9, 1942.

The guns, newly restored, fired again yesterday morning in honour of Australia's defence forces.

High school student Briony Beale, who gave the commemoration address at the ceremony with Matthew Newman, acknowledged that her generation had little experience of a country at war.

"We are the lucky generations, the ones who benefit from the sacrifice of our families," she said.

"Today, we remember the soldiers' bravery and courage and recognise the aspects of the legends that are ingrained in all Australians today.

"We are all proud to call ourselves Australian and when we do we associate that with bravery, honour, courage, mateship and endurance."

Addressing about 3000 people at Teralba, Father David Hesketh praised Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in war, and asked if the men who fought and died for Australia would be happy with the current state of the nation.

Lake Macquarie mayor and state member Greg Piper paid his respects by laying a wreath on behalf of Lake Macquarie City Council.

State member for Charlestown Andrew Cornwell joined about 1000 people for the Dawn Service in Cardiff and a similar sized crowd at Adamstown before going to an event in Lions Park, Charlestown, which attracted about 250.

At the Maitland Anzac Day service, little Leo Carraro honoured his great-grandfathers by marching for a second year.

With his great-grandfather's dog tags around his neck, the eight-year-old understood the sacrifices his family members made by going to war.

His great-great grandfather, Frederick William Perry, served in World War I and died at Maitland Hospital in 1953 at the age of 78.

Frederick's son, Robert Arthur Perry (Leo's great-grandfather), served in Papua New Guinea in World War II and died in 2007 at the age of 83.

The Perry family attend the Maitland service every year carrying photos of both Frederick and Robert as well as Robert's medals.

"Dad passed away just before Anzac Day in 2007. He never talked about the war," Julie Cheers (nee Perry) said of her father Robert.

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Below: one of the Hunter's own, Clem Kealy AM, speaks about ANZAC Day and his experiences in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

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