Anzac Day reflection on service, sacrifice

The PM says he'll be remembering WWII veteran Leslie Allen, a statue of whom he keeps in his office.
The PM says he'll be remembering WWII veteran Leslie Allen, a statue of whom he keeps in his office.

As Australians gather to pay tribute to the nation's servicemen and women on Anzac Day, one in particular will be on Scott Morrison's mind.

The prime minister has told a group of Australian troops and Darwin-based US Marines that he'll be thinking of the stretcher-bearer of whom he has a statue in his office.

"I'll be remembering Leslie 'Bull' Allen, in particular, because of what it means for our relationship between Australia and the United States," he said on Wednesday.

Under heavy Japanese fire in July 1943, the corporal from Queensland carried a dozen wounded Americans to safety down the slopes of New Guinea's Mount Tambu.

He was awarded the US Silver Star for his heroism.

Mr Morrison says life wasn't easy for the corporal before World War II, when he experienced violence as a child.

Nor was it easy when he returned, serving as a reminder of the tough time servicemen and women can experience once they're home.

"They're still fighting the battles that have left the battlefield long ago," the prime minister said.

"We'll remember our duty to our veterans and we'll say thank you for their service, and as a government, we'll continue to say thank you for their service by honouring them with the services we must extend to them."

Thousands of Australians will gather to pay their tributes as the sun rises on Thursday morning, while others will do the same at marches.

Corporal Mark Donaldson, who a decade ago became the first recipient of Australia's highest military honour for bravery in more than 40 years, will speak at the dawn service in Canberra.

The Special Air Service soldier was presented the Victoria Cross in January 2009, after rescuing a coalition forces interpreter from heavy fire in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan just a few months earlier.

In Adelaide, Australia's oldest living Victoria Cross recipient - who risked his life to save 40 men in Vietnam - will join the city's annual march.

Keith Payne VC AM, 85, received the honour for rescuing fellow soldiers while under enemy fire and suffering his own injuries during the Battle of Ben Het in 1969.

At Villers-Bretonneux in the French countryside, the Last Post will echo once again at dawn after Mr Morrison intervened in February to stop the local service being moved to later in the morning.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne will attend the service, while assistant minister for the Pacific Anne Ruston will be in Papua New Guinea.

Turkey is also closely monitoring the safety of Australians at commemorative events on the Gallipoli peninsula, which Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell will attend amid heightened security fears.

Veteran Affairs Minister Darren Chester has defended a ban on Turkish nationals attending the dawn service at the peninsula, saying the step is not unprecedented.

Australian Associated Press