Perth city streets lined for Anzac Day parade

Thousands of people poured into the city for the Anzac march.

Small children lining the road waved flags and cheered.

But for sisters Grace, 5, and Lillian Watson, 4, whose ex SAS father Paul is marching for the first time today, the most interesting attraction was the police horses.

Picture: iamseus/twitter

"Are they real?" They asked their mother, Tammy.

Women dressed in the fashions of 1915 stood near one corner with baskets of rosemary.


Belinda Rowland, who darted out of the crowd to plant a kiss on a sailor, said they were part of the "send off" group from Albany RSL sub branch.

Picture: The West Australian/instagram

The loudest cheers erupted for the oldest diggers driven past in army jeeps.

"Thank you, thank you!" Two small boys called out every time a car went past.

ANZAC COMMEMORATIONS FROM GALLIPOLI TO KINGS PARK



Anne McCormack, whose husband served with the SAS, said he was always delighted to see his old mates.

“They have a beer - just the one - and have a good catch-up,“ she said.

Now living in a Swanbourne lifestyle village, they held their own dawn service, feeding 156 of their neighbours and friends afterwards.

But there was no way they were going to miss the centenary march, when the solemn mood of sunrise was replaced with national pride and applause for the diggers.

Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

“It's very moving in the morning and this is the time when it's just a bit more light-hearted,” Ms McCormack said.

“I like to see the old nurses go by - they're the ones who get forgotten.”

HMAS Stirling warrant officer Scott Campbell said the rest of the day would be spent having a family lunch then watching the football - the perfect way to cap off a day of national pride and celebrate Australian culture.

But it was not a time to drink excessively, he said.

Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

“There's a change in culture - it's no longer seen as respectful to use the day as an excuse to drink too much,” he said.

After the approximately 7000 marchers had filed in, RSL WA president Graham Edwards told the commemorative service in the Supreme Court Gardens that a century later, Australia still wondered at the courage and resilience of the Anzacs.

"At Gallipoli, they managed, despite the failure, to build something more solid than stone," he said.

"They also gifted us a spirit and values to live by as significant today as they were a century ago: courage, sacrifice and a love of country and a heritage that speaks of mateship, compassion and a fair go."

Mr Edwards said that heritage had been continued by all service men and women who had served since and those who continued to do so.

He said he was encouraged to see the interest from students during his visits to schools.

"I see in those young Australians courage, honour and decency are just as great as in any previous generation."

He said Anzac Day was not solely focused on those who gave their lives.

"It's also a time to show our appreciation for those who serve today" he said.

"We are custodians of the spirit of the Anzacs."

WA Governor Kerry Sanderson said the valuing of a fair go and mateship shown by those who fought at Gallipoli had become part of the Australian psyche.

"They showed us what it means to be Australian," she said.

The WA Police marching contingent was closely flanked by on-patrol officers, a sign of the heightened threat level to members of the police force.

Young children were perched on their fathers' shoulders, craning their necks to watch the parade pass by and moving their feet to the sound of the marching bands.

WWII veteran Michael Walsh considers himself very lucky to be at the parade.

Veteran Michael Walsh, considers himself lucky to be at the parade. Picture: Liam Croy/The West Australian

The 89-year-old is fighting prostate cancer, some 70 years after he fought the Japanese in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Walsh was joined by his son, Paul, who marched to honour his father and the memory of his grandfather, who served with the light horse in Gallipoli.

They came into Perth from Falcon, as they do every year, to join in the march.

The WWII veteran said he couldn't help but get "pretty bloody angry" on Anzac Day.

"I'm angry for the pure and simple reason that there were thousands of young blokes butchered at Gallipoli and they knew it was never going to work," he said.

"At least in the Second World War, we had to knock the Nazis arse over head, there was no argument there.

Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

"It's just incredible that these youngsters knew damn well that they were getting conned but they were going to take as many with them as they could.

"We had 10 VC's there. It's just unbelievable."

Mr Walsh tries not to think about his experiences at war, when he was a forward scout and a rear man - two of the more vulnerable roles to fill.

He said the fighting in PNG was fierce and the Australians were easily outnumbered.

"The Japs had us about 4:1 and we killed more than 4:1," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, we did the job and I've endeavoured to just put it behind me and thank god.

"I was flown out of the place with malaria, hook worm - you name it, I weighed seven stone but I was alive."

Perth couple Alan and Clare Evans were clapping particularly hard as each section of the parade passed them on Riverside Drive.

Mr Evans, 68, was thinking of his father who served in WWII and his grandfather, Louis Frederick, who died on the Western Front in WWI.

Louis Frederick left his father's tent-making business in Perth and sailed from Fremantle in 1916 to join the war effort.

He was killed the next year, aged 28.

Today was a solemn occasion for Mr Evans, who remembers going to the dawn service at Kings Park with his late grandmother.

"I'm going to the dawn service next year," Mr Evans said.

"I'm going because it marks the 100th anniversary of when my grandfather left."

Mrs Evans continued clapping while her husband spoke, as if she wanted to make sure that none of the people marching heard a lull in the applause.

"It's just something I feel I really need to do, so they know we appreciate what they've done," she said.

"It's hard to explain."

Afghanistan veteran Dave Singer, 24, told of how he was 19 when he found himself serving there, facing bullets, bombs, rockets and grenades in a harsh country, where it could be 50 degrees or so cold the ground would freeze.

But he said being in this unluckiest of countries made him appreciate his life in Australia.

"My time in Afghanistan defined what Anzac spirit means to me,"he said. "It's about freedom, courage and standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves. It is about having a smile on your face even in the darkest of times. Above all, just as it was in Gallipoli and has been in every conflict since, the Anzac spirit is about the mates beside you.

"Afghanistan was dangerous, and uncomfortable and sometimes it felt like it would never end but every day, I was with my mates... We moved forward together even when we were afraid because there was no way we would ever let each other down."

He also spoke of the continuing bond between returned soldiers, past and present, and the importance of continuing to support veterans as they coped with their return to Australia. He remembered friends who suffered: Paul, who lost his leg, Nate who was killed in action and Mick, "who every day eats a fist full of pills to cope with his post traumatic stress".

For some, the war will never be over, he said. But the spirit forged in Gallipoli should always be remembered.

"I remember 100 years ago, on the shores of Gallipoli, the blood of heroes was shed in freedom's name and a legend was forged ... that makes every one of us here what we are today."

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