PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has paid tribute to 10 widows of Australian First World War veterans ahead of a special Qantas flight to Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary.

Standing in front of the Qantas A380 airbus that will take the women and their carers to Turkey tomorrow, Tony Abbott said he was honoured to be sending off 10 "keepers of the Anzac flame".

"I have read your inspiring stories, and each one of them is a remarkable story of love," he said.

"Your husbands typically didn't say much about what they had experienced. I am sure that your presence, your love and your compassion were their balm."

The 10 widows came from all walks of life, but shared one common experience - falling in love with their older husbands after their return from war.

They will be among 364 passengers flying to Turkey on a plane named after Qantas founders Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, who both served in Gallipoli.

Chris Calcino

The Fysh-McGinness will use flight number QF100 in honour of the Anzac Centenary.

Governer-General Peter Cosgrove was among the well-wishers paying their respects to the widows and their late-husbands this afternoon.

"Because of all they went through and all the sacrifices they made, these diggers and the women who went over there to tend to them when they were wounded, are now revered and respected by all," he said.

"Today they're part of our folklore, they're part of the Australian story."


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