An estimated crowd of 5500 gathered at dawn at Geraldton’s Birdwood House to pay their respects to Australian soldiers who have defended, and continue to defend our country. A chill in the air and prospect of rain did not deter people in their thousands from attending the Anzac Day dawn service. The skies cleared for the service, before rain fell soon after formalities were over. The parade of men and women who served for Australia, as well as relatives of those who served, marched down Chapman Road at 6am, with the service held at Birdwood House filling the streets with those thankful for their service. Among the faces in the crowd was WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch. Geraldton RSL president Ken Morris addressed the crowd, telling them: “We must give all possible support to those who continue to put on the uniform.” Ex-diplomat and singer-songwriter Fred Smith performed his original song, Sapper’s Lullaby, a tale of two young men who lost their lives during service. “After that song was performed, the entire crowd gave the most genuine minute’s silence for those two blokes,” said Paul Ryan, wearing his medals from his service during the Vietnam War. Hans Hurij served in the Vietnam War, with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) under the United States 173rd Airborne Brigade. “The service was very well put together, which was obvious from the outset. A complete credit to the organisers and the RSL — and the remembrance that sits with occasions such as this,” he said. Scout leader Daniel Treasure was emotional as he sung his praises for the scouts stationed at the memorial overnight, from 6pm till 6am. Cubs and scouts took shifts at the memorial. “It’s so hard at 3am when they’re hitting rock-bottom, then it gets to 5am and people start to come and you see their backs straighten, they pick themselves up and their eyes are clear,” Mr Treasure said. The main service will be held at Birdwood House at 11am on Tuesday.