Federal MP Simon Birmingham and SA Premier Steven Marshall joined crowds at the Anzac dawn service.Norman Curley often said if he had been an inch taller, he would never have made it home from war.
At Adelaide’s Anzac Day dawn service, his grandchildren, Garry Munro and Julie Moffat, clutched his framed picture and proudly told of his wartime heroics.
“He brought a helmet home with a bullet hole in it, and I used to ask him (about it) when I was young,” Mr Munro told AAP following the commemoration.
“He said ‘I was not tall for a reason… if I was any bigger, I probably wouldn’t have survived the war’.”
Ms Moffat travelled to Adelaide from Sydney especially for the service, and said her grandfather served in both World Wars before returning home to Australia.
Wearing Mr Curley’s rings, she said he had lied about his age to enlist to serve at just 15 years old.
As the sun rose, Ms Moffat joined thousands gathered at the South Australian National War Memorial and spilling down North Terrace, for the annual dawn service to mark Australia’s national day of remembrance.
Ian Smith, chair of the RSL SA’s Anzac Day committee, said more work needs to be done to recognise the service of women in the armed forces.
Women were restricted to nursing roles prior to World War II, when all three services introduced women’s branches.
“Women were fully integrated during the 1970s and 80s, and since then have continued to make their mark with a full range of responsibilities across all three services,” he told the crowd.
Mr Smith said 2018 marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, and Australian involvement in stopping the German spring offensive and in supporting the allied 100 offensive that drove the Germans back.
It also marks the 75th anniversary of many World War II battles and events, including the last Japanese air raid on Darwin, and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.
“Today we remember the service and sacrifices of all Australians who have served our nation in wars and conflicts since Federation,” Mr Smith said.
“In the last resort, they are the ones we have relied upon to protect us and our democratic freedoms.”
As the Last Post was played an elderly digger in the front row of the service collapsed before two minutes of silence was held.
Paramedics were quickly on the scene and reported he was “fine” as he was taken away.
The service, attended by dignitaries, politicians and representatives of various groups, began with the arrival of governor Hieu Van Le and the catafalque party.
Among those who laid wreaths were federal politicians Simon Birmingham and Penny Wong, Premier Steven Marshall, Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and Lord Mayor Martin Haese.
The service, which last about 50 minutes, concluded with the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.
Australian Associated Press