Tens of thousands of people have descended on Kings Park to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women.

Fraser Avenue was thick with a procession of men, women and children coming to pay their respects to more than 100,000 Australians who died.

The Dawn Service at Kings Park. Pictures: Stever Ferrier/The West Australian

The area in front of the memorial was full by 5am, with families enjoying still conditions and a mild 16C minimum.

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Children were hoisted on shoulders and medals worn proudly by veterans as the big screens played footage from various theatres of war.

Bill Tucker, 62, came to Kings Park to honour his great-grandfather, who died during World War I.

The Perth man, who was a member of the Citizen Military Forces from 1973 to 1978, said the Dawn Service was very emotional.

He was pleased to see another massive turn-out on the 99th anniversary of Gallipoli.

"Every year I've been here there's been a great turn-out and this year's no different," he said.

"It will probably be up on previous years. There seems to be an upswing in the number of people who are interested."

A group of three officers from Wembley police station were among the crowd, including one former soldier who saw active service overseas between 2000 and 2008.

The wreath-laying ceremony during the Dawn Service. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

They came to the Dawn Service to honour the fallen before the start of their Anzac Day shift.

From further afield, Hayden Powell, his wife Sonia, their two young daughters and their niece were down from Tom Price for the weekend.

Mr Powell said he grew up in the scouts system and was taught to respect the sacrifice of people who fought for their country.

"When my niece came to live with us there were two rules," he said.

"One rule was you have to come to Anzac Day and I can't remember the other one."

The lights were switched off at Kings Park just before 6am in anticipation of the arrival of Governor Malcolm McCusker.

A piper played the Lament as Mr McCusker laid the first wreath at the base of the memorial and the first light started to brighten the sky.

Returned and Services League State President Graham Edwards read The Ode and many in the crowd saluted as a bugler played The Last Post and a Royal Australian Air Force jet flew over the service.

A minute's silence was observed before the playing of the Reveille and the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.

Captain Angela Bond, who gave the Dawn Service address, told the crowd that as the Anzacs prepared to step foot on the shores of Gallipoli, they faced their fears and quelled their sickness.

“Those of us who have not worn the shoes of those men will never understand or know the fear, anticipation or sickness felt in the pit of the stomach of sailors, soldiers, airmen and women about to put themselves into danger for their country,” Capt Bond said.

Marking 100 years of Australian submariners, Capt Bond, commander of HMAS Stirling, recounted the story of the AE2, an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy, and the Dardanelles campaign.

Capt. Bond said the first Anzac Day dawn service was held in WA 84 years ago.

"Western Australia was the first State, in 1919, to legislate for the 25th of April to be the official day of commemoration and a public holiday," she said.

"Western Australia is where Arthur Ernest White, while Rector of the St John Evangelist Church at Albany, celebrated the Holy Communion at 6 AM on April 25, 1930 - the first ANZAC Day Dawn Service held in Australia."

She also remembered WA soldier Frederick Bell, who served in South Africa from 1899 and received the Victoria Cross for an action in Brapkan in 1901.

Two of his brothers died fighting for Australia in WWI - one at Gallipoli and one in France.

Capt. Bond read a rousing letter which was written by Mr Bell and later published in Perth's Western Mail.

"Australians have made a glorious name for themselves, one that will live forever," the letter read.

"They must have wept tears of blood on receiving orders to leave the scene of so many stirring and wonderful acts of bravery and devotion to duty.

"I can tell you, it was a sad thing for me to hear they were being withdrawn after sticking to an almost impossible job for so long…their bravery is the admiration of the world at large.

"The men left behind at ANZAC are still guarding the ridges through the long watch of ages against the enemies of civilization.


"Not today or tomorrow, but so long as Australia remains, will the people of that country turn towards ANZAC with hearts aglow, and pride in her sons. Advance Australia is indelibly written in the blood of her bravest and best forever."

There were some teary eyes at the end of the service, including those of 68-year-old Vietnam veteran Peter Sayer, 68.

Mr Sayer was conscripted as an engineer and served for seven months.

As well as friends lost in Vietnam, he was remembering his father, who fought in World War II.

His son Ben, from Swanbourne, flew him over from Melbourne so they could share their first Anzac Day in Perth.

"This is the first time I've marched with Ben here in Perth," Peter said.

"It's a stirring thing and it brings back a few vivid memories for me.

"I think it's excellent the way the whole thing has grown around the country."

The West Australian

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