An estimated crowd of 35,000 braved the early morning chill at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for the dawn service to commemorate Anzac Day.

It is almost 100 years since the first landings by Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.

As the sun crept over the landscape those gathered remembered family members and defence personel who gave their lives in conflict.

The Anzac dedication was given by the ACT Branch RSL president John King.

He asked those gathered to thank and remember all who have served their country in both conflict and peacekeeping.

"At this hour, on this day, 98 years ago, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli made immortal the name of ANZAC and established an imperishable tradition of selfless service, of devotion to duty, and of fighting for all that is best in human relationships," Mr King said.

"We who are gathered here today 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.

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

During the ceremony, wreaths were laid by Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Pannell (Ret'd) from the ACT Branch RSL, and the Defence Adviser at the New Zealand High Commission Commodore Ross Smith, to symbolise the unity of Anzac.

Senior Chaplain Barrie Yesberg highlighted the efforts of Australian submarine AE2, also known as the 'silent Anzac' and her crew.

"They had to dodge mines which they could not see, because they did not have technology that we have today," Senior Chaplain Yesberg said.

"April 25th being a Sunday and with mines scrapping down the sides of the boat as they moved through the straits the CO [commanding officer] lead the crew in prayer.

"Five days after transiting the straits as the first allied vessel to do so, the AE2 was attacked and badly damaged.

"The 32 crew scuttled her and became prisoners of war."

As crowds gathered outside the war memorial just prior to the ceremony the pillars of the building were lit up with photos from past conflicts.

Ben Roberts-Smith VC read out a series of accounts from soldiers in Afghanistan, defence support staff and the families waiting at home.

The dawn service concluded with the last post and the national anthem.

After the ceremony, a service was held at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial on Mount Ainslie, in recognition of the contribution and loss of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women.

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