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Thousands gather for the Anzac Day dawn service, joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

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Anzac Day: Royals attend dawn service

RAW VISION: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Canberra, while thousands gathered in Sydney to commemorate the Gallipoli landings. Nine News.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined a record crowd of 37,000 at the Australian War Memorial to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and the enduring Anzac legacy.

On a day of tradition and remembrance, the Anzac Day dawn service began with a new tradition.

The Last Post is played during the Dawn Service on ANZAC day at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The Last Post is played during the Dawn Service on ANZAC day at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The diaries of Australian soldiers from the shores of Gallipoli to the mountainous trails of Kokoda were read aloud in the dark by Lieutenant Commander Desmond Woods.

The words of soldiers writing to their mothers, sisters and close friends echoed before the War Memorial from 4.30am.

The Lieutenant Commander read the diary of Private Victor Nicholson, who wrote of his mate Lofty killed at Quinn’s Post at Gallipoli, shot through the eye while peeping through a looking hole.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a dawn memorial service on ANZAC Day at the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a dawn memorial service on ANZAC Day at the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

“I didn’t cry, unless Gallipoli was one long cry,” he said.

“If you cried once you would never have stopped. There were friends going every day, and sometimes every hour of every day. Wonderful friends. I cried inwardly – that’s all you could do.”

Once the correspondence was read, a memorial service was held for the 40 Australian soldiers who died during Australia's longest war in Afghanistan

Australian War Memorial. the tomb of the unknown soldier.
   Canberra Times photo by Karleen Minney Click for more photos

Dawn service at the Australian War Memorial on Anzac day

Images from the Anzac day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Photo: Karleen Minney

Wing commander Sharon Bown, an RAAF nursing officer, recalled her experiences serving in an emergency medical room in Afghanistan, while the images and names of the 40 soldiers killed in Afghanistan were beamed onto the walls of the war memorial.

"I have worn their blood," she said.

"So many of us have worn their blood.

“I have seen the strongest and finest reduced to flesh, and witnessed the death of innocence and a once-supposed sense of immortality.

“I have held their widows and consoled their partners, their brothers, sisters and friends and gazed upon their children, some too young to understand the enormity of that which they have lost.”

In reference to the images of 40 fallen soldiers cast on the War Memorial, Ms Brown reflected on the hundreds of servicemen who are still battling with the mental and physical scars of battle.

“We do not see the 261 who were wounded; we do not see those who have wrestled with post-traumatic stress disorder, nor the other mental health issues which have resulted from their service.”

Recipient of the Victorian Cross, Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, delivered an address to the crowd on the endurance and stewardship of the Anzac spirit.

“I feel an overwhelming sense of pride,” he said. “Pride in what we have accomplished as a nation with great due to the sacrifice of so many.”

“While the ANZAC spirit may have first arisen in troops on the battlefield, it is indeed a life-force that resides in all Australians,” he said.

"It is our constant, and our preserve," he said.

Standing before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the winner of Australia's highest military award said "we are Australians; we are born of the Anzacs". 

“We are the custodians and stewards of their spirit now and into the future,” he said. “We must take good care of it.”

Army Chaplain Peter Willis led the Anzac Dedication before reciting the Lords Prayer and leading the service in the hymn Abide With Me.

"We who are gathered here in this dawn vigil remember with gratitude the men and women who have given, and are still giving, in our Armed and Supporting Services, all that is theirs to give, in order that the world may be a nobler place in which to live," he said.

"And with them, we remember those left behind to bear the sorrow of their loss"

Children braving a frosty morning stood beneath veterans and older Australians with service medals pinned to their chests as they entered the memorial following the service.

Warrant Officer Mark Henderson, who has served in the Australian Navy for more than twenty years, brought his young daughter Olivier to the service like so many other servicemen and women.

"This is a time for reflection, a time to remember, both on my own service and those who have served before me," he said.

"To me the Anzac spirit is all about helping others - some call it teamwork and others call it leadership - but it's just about recognising what the right thing to do is and getting out there and doing it for others."

Director of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson said he was delighted with the number of people who attended the dawn service.

“It was also an unexpected pleasure to host their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Dawn Service," he said.

"Although their attendance was not on the official itinerary, they wanted to join with Australians in commemorating Anzac Day.”

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Job ID: PD276533. ANZAC DAY ROYAL TOUR SUPERPOOL: The Royal couple the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Catherine with the Chairman of the Australian War Memorial Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Ret'd) and his wife, Elaine. The royal couple toured the Commemorative Area (shrine) including the Hall of Memory and then walked along the cloisters at the heart of the Memorial which contain the Roll of Honour: a long series of bronze panels recording the names of over 102,000 members of the Australian armed forces who have died during or as a result of war service, warlike service, non-warlike service and certain peacetime operations, in Canberra, during the Royal Tour of Australia. Friday 25 April 2014. Photo: Gary Ramage . SUPERPOOL. Dawn service at the Australian War Memorial on Anzac day

Images from the Anzac day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a dawn memorial service on ANZAC Day at the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra April 25, 2014. Australia and New Zealand on Friday marked the 99th anniversary of the first major military action involving Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC is an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.   REUTERS/Jason Reed   (AUSTRALIA - Tags: ANNIVERSARY ENTERTAINMENT MILITARY POLITICS ROYALS) Anzac Day: Royals attend dawn service

RAW VISION: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Canberra, while thousands gathered in Sydney to commemorate the Gallipoli landings. Nine News.

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