Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Thousands Honour Fallen Anzacs

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Thousands Honour Fallen Anzacs

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen Whinnett in France, Jack Houghton in Gallipoli, Tom Minear and Justin Lees in PNG and Claire Bickers in Canberra

VETERANS' Affairs Minister Dan Tehan has read a heartbreaking letter at a Dawn Service in Villers- Bretonneux in northern France.

It was written by young Queensland soldier Lance Corporal William Denver Gallwey to his parents as he prepared to fight one of the battles of Bullecourt.

"In a very short time I am going into action again ... we are going to take a certain German stronghold in the Hindenburg Line," he wrote.

"If I get through it all this time without a scratch I will think myself a lucky man but I am sure I will be either killed or wounded ... I will do my duty as a soldier and fight to the bitter end ... I am your loving son, Denver."

Mr Tehan said the lance corporal, who survived the war, had written the letter believing "there would be no tomorrow".

"Yet he fought for a world where the war would end, not for him, but for others," Mr Tehan said. "It was 1917 and this was the life of the Australian soldier on the Western Front."

The official attendance figure at Villers-Bretonneux was 2133, down on last year's 3100. A further 938 were registered to attend at Bullecourt, a short distance away.

This year marks the centenary of the dreadful tragedy of the two battles of Bullecourt that claimed more than 10,000 Australian lives for negligible strategic gain.

Dawn Services were also being held in the villages and towns right across the Western Front that still hold close ties to Australia.

At Anzac Cove in Turkey, hundreds of Australians slept as they waited for the morning sun to cut the chill of the night.

The temperature was 3degrees as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop greeted the crowd at dawn.

"From every community, from every walk of life, Australian sons and fathers, husbands and brothers, answered the call of patriotic duty," she said.

"By the end of the 'war to end all wars', over 60,000 were killed - never to know the joy of being reunited with family and friends.

"Gallipoli makes us proud to be Australian. …

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