Sombre, respectful crowd

They had to; crowd estimates of up to 3000 proved far less than the capacity of the memorial ground outside the Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club.

But no one appeared to mind, even those without a clear view of official proceedings of the Anzac Day dawn service.

Several boats moored just metres off the beach in a tribute to the flotilla of vessels responsible for transporting our troops to the shores of Gallipoli 100 years ago.

Saturday�s dawn service included an RAAF fly-over and renditions of both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems led by Indian Blue Chorus.

Military Brotherhood president Shane Kempton shared an excerpt from his grandfather�s personal war diary that reminded the large crowd how much peace meant to wartime Servicemen and women.

Entitled �The end of the war�, it captured the elation felt by Mr Kempton�s grandfather, Private Ernest Kempton of the 2/16th Battalion, upon his realisation that WWII was over.

�I am so happy! Search lights everywhere. Artillery firing their guns in joy not anger. Relief and happiness. I�ll never forget.

�Dear God, thank you on behalf of humanity,� his hastily scribed diary entry read.

Pte Kempton then surmised: �Happiness is freedom, and freedom is courage.�

With daylight breaking through to show clear blue skies above a glass-still ocean, the respectful audience watched as dignitaries and then members of the public laid wreaths around the week-old arch memorial.

A lone bugler sounded Last Post while flags surrounding the memorial were lowered to half-mast and then raised again.

Most importantly, the opportunity to enjoy the day and picturesque setting was a privilege not lost on a crowd that had come together in darkness for a time of sombre reflection.

Many of the crowd stayed longer to share a gunfire breakfast.