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Anzac Day Commemorations Are Being Held Overseas As Dawn Breaks

"Australians have found meaning and inspiration in the story of the Anzacs... Gallipoli makes us proud to be Australian."

25/04/2017 11:22 AM AEST | Updated 25/04/2017 5:33 PM AEST

Australians have made the coveted annual pilgrimage to the Gallipoli Peninsula for Anzac Day, despite warnings earlier this month from the Turnbull Government about the threats of a potential terrorist attack.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop delivered a remembrance speech at the Dawn Service in which she recounted the "eight months of hell" endured by the Anzacs.

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The Foreign Minister was present at Anzac Cove for the 102nd anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.

"It was the Gallipoli campaign that captured the imagination of our country," she said.

"There was little that could have prepared them for what lay ahead... Their optimism was nevertheless astonishing."

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Many were reduced to tears at the service.

Osman Orsal / Reuters
Crowd numbers were reportedly down this year amid terror threats.

April 25th marks 102 years since Australian and New Zealand troops first landed at what is now known as Anzac Cove during WWI in a campaign that was an heroic yet costly failure.

Australian casualties for the Gallipoli campaign totalled 26,111 with 8,141 of those either killed in action, dying of wounds or succumbing to disease. Of the more than 17,000 New Zealand soldiers who fought, 2,721 died.

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New Zealand Minister of Justice Amy Adams speaks at the service.

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Addressing the crowds that had gathered together in the cold, the New Zealand Minister for Justice, Amy Adams, highlighted that the battle was one of "the most defining moments in our nations' history".

"These were the young sons of New Zealand and Australia," she said.

"They put aside fear and thoughts of loved ones. With bare grit and unquestionable courage they arrived, boots first and friends close behind.

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New Zealand's Justice Minister visited the Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial in Gallipoli on Monday.

"The Aussies were our mates, they too were far from home. They stood with us shoulder-to-shoulder, under fire, doing what had to be done.

"From that day to now, we're proud to call them our closest friends."

In the wake of adversity, the courage and camaraderie displayed by both the Australian and New Zealand forces involved in the failed campaign saw the birth of the Anzac tradition, which quickly became deeply ingrained in the identity of both nations.

"The 25th of April is etched into our calendar as a most sacred national day," Bishop said.

"Not by a government edict or decree, but through the deep understanding of generations of Australians that this horrendous sacrifice was made in our name and for our nation.

"Australians have found meaning and inspiration in the story of the Anzacs."

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The Minister for Foreign Affairs attends a ceremony as part of the 102nd anniversary of the Canakkale Land Battles in Canakkale on Monday.

The Turkish forces who opposed the Anzacs at Gallipoli were led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who went on to become the founder of modern Turkey and the Republic's first president.

The current Colonel of the Turkish armed forces, who was also present at the service, remarked that during the Gallipoli campaign, "the human race showed the whole world that the sides in a fight could make friends and become brothers".

"This is why it is special," he said.

"It is an inspiration to the oppressed nations, it is sacred."

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Crowds camped out in cold conditions overnight for the Dawn Service.

The Colonel then went on to read the remarkable tribute made by Ataturk to the Anzacs in 1934:

"Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to use where they lie side by side here in this country of ours... You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

There were only 700 registered attendees, among them Australians, New Zealanders and Turkish people, the smallest figure in many years.

Back home, early assessments of ANZAC services indicated much smaller crowd numbers this year, particularly in Sydney's Martin Place where tightened security was in place.

Quiet on the Western Front

At the Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux in France, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Dan Tehan, urged Australians to reflect on the service and sacrifice of every man and woman that has served in defence of the country.

"For Australian soldiers, the third year of the Great War was the worst they ever experienced," he said.

"More troops died in battle in 1917 and more were taken prisoner than in any other year. There has never been a year when Australia lost more to war than 1917. And yet they fought on, men asked to take on an extraordinary task."

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People visit the military cemetery of the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, northern France.

76,836 Australians became casualties in 1917 as the war entered its third year in battles such as Bullecourt, Messines, and the Battle of Passchendaele.

"[I]n this darkest year, they did their duty and fought to the bitter end. This is the legacy of 1917 bestowed by those who gave their all. It is a legacy that continues wherever Australian service men and women are deployed," Tehan said.

"In 1917, those who served did not do so for themselves but for us. For a world where a bitter end may mean something greater, something better.

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Australian family members wait for the dawn ceremony to start.

"That our something better was born out of the sacrifice on the Western Front a hundred years ago is something that our nation cannot forget."

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