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As it Happened. -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) And here we go.

From the dawn of the space age,

pioneers on rockets
explore new frontiers

and fulfil the age-old dream
of travelling to other worlds.

Curiosity is the essence
of human existence.

It brings about
innovation, imagination.

It stimulates the entire society.

MAN: Roger roll, 'Discovery'.

KRANZ: Outer space
was to raise our aspirations

to those things that are possible
if we will commit.

MAN: The most important thing

that we have to pass on
to our younger people

is that the word 'impossible'
doesn't exist.

Given the desire to do it, humans
can accomplish almost anything.

KRANZ: And we have to continue
to move forward.

To stop in space is to surrender.

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

Good evening.

Good evening. Manny Tsigas with a World News Australia Update. A man has been killed and several communities are under threat as bushfires continue to burn in Victoria's east. The Country Fire Authority says a number of homes have been lost around Gippsland due to soaring temperatures and strong winds. Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has confirmed all seven of his Tour de France victories were fuelled by performance enhancing drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong confessed to using EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions throughout his career. And dozens of foreign hostages remain unaccounted for, following a deadly raid by Islamic militants at an Algerian gas field. 30 hostages have reportedly been killed. At least seven of them were foreign workers. I'll have a full World News Australia bulletin for you at 10:30pm.

Sunrise on the sixth of June, 1944,

a day that would see one of bloodiest
battles of the Second World War.

(Loud continuous explosions)

Most of the men
who stormed the beaches

in the first minutes of D-Day

had little or no experience
of combat.

Many did not survive
their baptism of fire.

The heaviest casualties were
on a beach codenamed "Omaha".

"Overlord", as the Allies called it,

was the largest combined sea,
land and air operation

in the history of warfare.

There had never been
anything like it.

We'd been trained and we knew
that there was gonna be chaos,

we knew that we probably
wouldn't have communication

and it was just a matter of...

We were scared to death, I guess,
we didn't...

I couldn't even think straight,
I was so scared, you know.

You do what you have to do

and not very much more than that.

In the first 18 hours,

155,000 men landed on a front
70 kilometres wide.

But the Battle for Normandy
went on for months.

It cost the Allies over 225,000 men
killed or wounded.

It was far worse
than I'd ever realised.

I mean, the general impression
has always been

that once they were ashore
on D-Day, it was over.

But in fact that was when
the fighting really started.

D-Day was a day of sacrifice.

It was a battle of logistics
on an unprecedented scale.

And it was the first day
in the liberation of Europe.

This is the story of that battle.

The Wolf's Lair, Hitler's
headquarters in East Prussia,

The fortunes of war
had turned against Germany.

The dictator's dream of ruling
the world was slipping away.

In Russia, the German army
was slowly bleeding to death.

On the 10th of January,

Hitler received the Romanian
dictator, Ion Antonescu.

Hitler blamed the Romanians

for the plight of the German
Sixth Army in Stalingrad,

where it had been cut off
and under siege for weeks.

But Hitler kept this secret
from the German people.

He knew as well as Stalin

that a Soviet victory in the city
that bore Stalin's name

would be a turning point
in the war.

At the same time,

the United States president,
Franklin D. Roosevelt,

was travelling to meet
Winston Churchill in Casablanca.

Over 100,000 Allied troops had just
landed in French North Africa,

occupying Morocco and Algeria.

But Stalin was demanding
that Roosevelt and Churchill

should open a second front
in Europe.

Churchill argued
for what he hoped

would be a much less costly
invasion of Italy,

coupled with a joint
bomber offensive against Germany.

For 10 days the Allies negotiated,
and Churchill got his way.

The Casablanca Conference
ended with a demand

for the unconditional surrender
of Nazi Germany.

Stalin went along,

but he nonetheless threatened to make
a separate peace with Germany

if he did not get more support
from his allies.

With the port of Algiers
full of their ships,

the Allies planned the next blows
against the Axis powers.

First, an invasion of Sicily,
and then the whole of Italy.

Since June 1942,

the American general
Dwight D. Eisenhower

had been the supreme commander
of the Allied forces in North Africa.

Now he would command
the invasion of Sicily.

Amphibious landings are among the

By 1943,

the Americans had made many
amphibious landings in the Pacific,

and they knew the risks.

landing on Japanese-occupied

A beach landing
in enemy-held territory,

even a surprise landing,

always runs the risk of
running into enemy fire

when the troops are
at their most vulneralbe.

At Guadalacanal,

the Americans waded ashore
almost unprotected,

with every man a living target.

The breakthrough came with
an amazingly simple invention,

the LCVP,

"Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel",

or the "Higgins boat".

This flat-bottomed assault craft

delivered troops straight
from their ships to the shore,

where its collapsible ramp
allowed them and their equipment

to disembark directly
onto the beach.

Andrew Higgins, the inventor
of the Higgins boat,

had based the design
on a Japanese landing craft.

Eisenhower later hailed him as
"the man who won the war for us".

In the Pacific,

the Marines had assaulted enemy-held
coastlines for over a year.

And out of their experience,
the Allies devised a plan

for a large-scale,
cross-Channel landing in France.

A lot of people, of course,

claimed that the plan for D-Day
was their own.

I mean, originally it had been
started in 1943

with a planning staff
called Cossack under General Morgan.

But there, the limitation
was too great.

They were only going to land 3
divisions on a much narrower front.

And both Eisenhower and Montgomery
saw independently

that the size of the invasion
had to be increased.

And that was one of the reasons
for postponing it,

because they needed extra ships
and landing craft

to land these extra divisions
on that first day.

At the Casablanca Conference,

the British and Americans had agreed
to postpone the invasion of France.

First, they would take
the island of Sicily,

to help secure the sea lanes
in the Mediterranean.

The landings began
on the 10th of July, 1943.

The US 1st Infantry Division,

an elite unit known as the
"Big Red One"

from its divisional crest,

was assigned a section
of the Gulf of Gela.

Each Higgins boat carried 36 troops.

Cinematographers from the
US Office of Strategic Services

went ashore with the troops
to document the landings.

They captured some unique footage.

Over 180,000 men
were successfully landed

in the first phase
of "Operation Husky".

As a dress rehearsal
for the invasion of France,

it was very promising.

But if Allied losses were low,

it was partly because most Italians
had long since tired of the war.

Flashback: Churchill congratulates
General Montgomery,

commander of Britain's 8th Army,
in 1942.

At El Alamein,

Montgomery had stopped Rommel's
Afrika Korps in its tracks.

Short of troops, supplies,
and above all, fuel,

Rommel faced disaster.

He ordered a general retreat.

But the British captured
many of his men,

and even his second in command,
General von Thoma.

Hitler was beside himself,
ordering Rommel by radio:

"You can show your troops no other
path than victory or death!"

Rommel ignored him,

and Hitler did not dare
to move against him.

Rommel was a gifted commander,
loved by his men

because he led from the front.

He had been a successful tank general
in the Battle of France

as well as in North Africa.

But he owed these appointments

to having led Hitler's
personal protection battalion.

He was daring, but as a strategist
he was found wanting.

At El Alamein, he had walked
into Montgomery's trap.

But Rommel, now a field marshal,

knew how to turn the Nazi propaganda
to his own advantage.

He escaped all personal blame

for the Axis disaster
in North Africa.

Rommel's new task was to build up
the so-called "Atlantic Wall",

which was largely a creation
of Goebbels' propaganda,

and make it a serious obstacle
to invasion.

So far, only the major ports
and the Channel coast at Calais

had strong defences.

But those defences had proved
more than adequate

in the Allied raid
on the Channel port of Dieppe.

On the 18th of August, 1942,

a fleet of 24 ships,
supported by RAF fighters,

had landed 6000 Canadian
and British troops.

Backed by nearly 60 Churchill tanks,

they had attempted to seize the city.

But the raiders were mown down
on the beaches.

60 per cent were killed,
wounded or captured.

All the tanks and most
of the other equipment were lost.

The attempted landing in force
ended in a bloodbath.

Hitler reacted to the raid
with his infamous "Commando Order".

"In future,
all terror and sabotage troops

"of the British and their accomplices
will be ruthlessly killed".

The Führer was determined
to cement his reign

over most of Western Europe.

It had already run
for over two years.

At dawn on the 28th of June, 1940,

Hitler had visited occupied Paris
to take possession.

France had surrendered
three days earlier,

following the German breakthrough
at Sedan on the 14th of May.

The Wehrmacht had pushed
deep into France

and forced the British
Expeditionary Force

to evacuate from Dunkirk.

The dictator had stood
at the height of his power.

17-year-old Jacques Vico

reacted to the ignominy of defeat
by joining the Resistance.

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Rommel's task was immense:

to secure a coast
more than 2000 kilometres long

with bunkers, obstacles
and minefields.

He questioned whether the invasion

would come at the obvious point,

In fact, Allied planners favoured

a sparsely populated region
of Normandy

north of the city of Caen.

The wide beaches there appeared
to suit a large-scale landing.

Unnoticed by the Germans,

small landing parties took
soil samples from the beaches

to test their load-bearing

From across Europe,

weapons and munitions
were transported to France.

Every tank, every assault gun,

increased Rommel's chances
of turning back the invasion.

But it was never enough.

There was a shortage of fuel,
of spare parts, of equipment.

German soldiers often depended
on bicycles

just to reach their positions.

18-year-old Franz Gockel
was in Normandy

with the German
352nd Infantry Division.

Rommel tirelessly inspected
every part of the Channel coast

to get a personal grasp
of the situation.

He was determined to close up
every possible gap.

Franz Gockel's position,
Strongpoint 62,

had one big point in its favour.

It had a clear field of fire
over the beach.

But neither he nor his comrades
ever dreamed

that this stony bit of coast

would shortly be the landing point
for 35,000 American troops.

A few weeks earlier,
Hitler had moved his headquarters

from East Prussia to the Obersalzberg
in the Bavarian Alps.

He was longing for the day
of the invasion.

Hitler s mood,
he was there at the Berghof

and was in way almost exultant

having wound himself up to the idea

that they are coming
and we are going to destroy them.

He had his usual failing
of believing his own propaganda

about the Atlantic Wall,
that the invasion would be smashed.

And he was also predicting,
of course,

where the landing was going to come,

but of course he,
in his typical way,

predicted both Normandy
and the Pas de Calais

so as to be able to say afterwards,
"You see, I was right!"

The Allies were faced

with one of the largest logistics
challenges in history.

Millions of soldiers had to be
shipped to Britain, fed, and trained.

Hundreds of military camps
sprang up across the country.

Again and again, units went on
exercises and manoeuvres,

held in the strictest secrecy.

A key part of the plan
was the use of a fleet of gliders

capable of landing heavy equipment
in the rough terrain of Normandy

and supplying the troops with
equipment, ammunition and food.

Everything was planned.

At the last minute,
"invasion stripes"

were painted on all Allied aircraft
to make them easy to recognise.

As they waited,
the men honed their bayonets

and disassembled
and oiled their rifles.

Anything to fill in the time.

To the dismay of General de Gaulle,

the troops had even been issued
with "invasion money",

for use in France.

It wasn t a very convincing money.

In fact, the American soldiers
described it

as looking like cigar coupons,
and they gambled it away happily.

But de Gaulle of course
was furious at them

issuing a money which of course
he had not guaranteed.

And it turned out that neither the
British nor the American governments

had thought about who was actually
going to guarantee this money.

So it was hardly surprising
that in these moments of stress

just before the invasion, and even
on the crossing of the Channel,

the soldiers were sort of
gambling away with this money

to take their minds
off the dangers ahead.

In April 1944,

exercises were held with
with new equipment

specially designed for the invasion.

The men of the first wave

were to take their own artillery
and tanks ashore with them.

American Shermans were fitted
with exhaust snorkels

and waterproof covers
for "swimming", as it was called.

Designed to drive
to the invasion beaches

through several kilometres
of deep water,

they were tested again and again.

The British and American
airborne divisions

were also training.

Over 23,000 Allied paratroopers

were to jump behind the German
lines on the night before D-Day.

Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed
that General Eisenhower

should command Operation Overlord.

Up to 1942, the 53-year-old Texan
had never seen combat,

let alone commanded an army at war.

But he was an excellent organiser
and highly diplomatic,

both vital skills
in a supreme commander.

Eisenhower's great achievement

really was to keep these very
different characters apart.

There were tremendous tensions,

not just between the British
and Americans,

but also on the British side.

Montgomery was hated by the senior
officers of the air force.

Tedder who was Eisenhower's
second in command

or the chief of staff basically

thoroughly disliked Montgomery.

They all loathed Leigh-Mallory,
who commanded the air force.

In fact, one of Bradley's
staff officers said,

"The air side stank."

But there were also tensions
with the American side,

I mean Bradley did not like Patton
and didn't trust him,

Patton loathed Montgomery.

He referred to him as "that
little monkey" in his diaries.

And to keep this lot together

as a remarkable feat, I think,
on Eisenhower's part.

The plan for Overlord

called for five divisions to cross
the Channel on the first day.

Within 90 days, the Allies expected
to reach the rivers Seine and Loire,

where they would pause for resupply,

and then advance on Germany itself.

Across the Channel, Rommel knew
that he faced long odds.

But in public, he played up the
strength of the Atlantic Wall

and often appeared for the cameras
in person.

A German general wrote of Rommel
in 1944,

"Very frank and serious.

"I have the impression that he
is not only a dashing daredevil,

"but a general."

Surprisingly, many German soldiers

were looking forward to the prospect
of a showdown with the Allies.

One German private wrote in a letter
dated the 16th of May,

"We all thought that the British
would launch the invasion

"in the first half of May,

"but the cowards never came!"

Meanwhile, the German generals
debated strategy.

Rommel and his entourage visit
a Wehrmacht unit, Assault-Gun Battalion 200,

for a demonstration
of the latest rocket launcher.

To keep the Wehrmacht
from reinforcing

the planned invasion front,

the Allies bombed the bridges
over the Seine

and the rail lines
between Germany and Normandy.

The attacks destroyed 70 per cent
of the rail network.

One of the contributory parts
of the whole Overlord operation

was what was called

which was this bombing campaign
on railway lines,

key communication centres
and so forth by the heavy bombers.

And Marshal Harris
was extremely reluctant

to divert his aircraft away
from the bombing of German cities

but was forced to do so
by Eisenhower.

Churchill of course was very nervous

about the number of French
civilian casualties.

He tried to fix a ceiling on it,

saying there mustn't be any more
than 10,000 French civilians killed.

But even by D-Day, 15,000 had been
killed in the preparatory phase.

The French Resistance accepted
that the bombing was necessary.

Allied fighter-bombers
took care of the rest.

During April and May,
they flew thousands of sweeps

over the Channel and occupied France,

attacking any target they could find.

Their gun-cameras recorded
what they hit.

The German air defence
was overwhelmed.

German soldiers joked,

"When you see a black plane,
it's British,

"when you see a white one,
it's American,

"and when you see nothing at all,
that's the Luftwaffe!"

The number of French civilians
who died in these attacks

will never be known.

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London, May 1944.

The calm before the storm.

Jack Lieb, an American
war correspondent,

captured these scenes
with his personal movie camera.

The decision had been taken.
In the next few weeks,

the Allies would embark
on the invasion of Normandy.

Only the exact date
was yet to be fixed.

The professional film-makers
were ready too.

A few weeks earlier,

John Ford had been handed the most
important assignment of his career:

to organise as many camera teams
as possible

to film the landings.

Ford headed the Office of
Strategic Services film unit. For over two years it had been based
at the Denham Film Studios

outside London,

where it could develop
and edit its footage.

The men of the unit's
Field Photographic Branch

were trained combat cameramen

and had already filmed
in North Africa and Sicily.

For D-Day, Ford had several camera
teams from the US Coast Guard.

But not everyone found it easy
to work with Ford.

Ford, when you first met him
and when you first worked with him,

was a very mean, crusty
S.O.B., he really was,

and a lot of people
were afraid of him.

But after you got to know him,
he was really a very, very nice guy.

He was much more sensitive than
most people gave him credit for.

He could... I didn't sense him
in the sense of

type of thing,

more sensitive to you
and your reaction to him

than most people realise.

He was really a very,
very nice guy.

A million dollars' worth of
filming equipment was standing by.

But to the Americans' horror,

the British had failed to provide
suitable photographs

of the French coast.

Ford's unit got the job.

We were all instructed
well before the invasion

to photograph the entire coast
of France

from exactly one mile offshore,
from exactly 500 foot altitude.

And you go along, take these
pictures and go along like that,

and obviously it was to find out

about the coast of France.

Some of Ford's men
even parachuted into France

to film strategically important

I flew from London
over to France,

and I jumped out of the airplane

and my parachute had a catch
on the airplane itself,

you didn't have to pull a cord,

it just opened as you jumped out,

It forced the airplane, or forced
the parachute to open.

The reason for that was
we fly very, very low,

the lower the better, because
you fly, one, under radar,

and two, it's such a small plane,
everybody ignored it,

couldn't do any harm
as far as they were concerned,

and the only possibility of danger

was somebody trying to shoot at you
from the ground with a rifle.

But you fly so low by that time
you're over them, you pass them,

and then the plane would slow down,
as slow as you could go,

and you'd jump out and come down.

In his memoirs, Churchill recalled
the preparations for D-Day.

"All Southern England
became a vast military camp,

"filled with men trained,
instructed, and eager

"to come to grips with the Germans
across the water."

For the town of Bedford
in the US state of Virginia,

D-Day holds a special significance.

Bedford is a typical small town.

Its people proudly display
their patriotism.

Thirty-eight men from Bedford
took part in the Normandy landings.

They belonged
to a National Guard unit,

A Company of the 116th Regiment
of the 29th Infantry Division.

Nineteen of them died
on the first day of Overlord.

Twin brothers Ray and Roy Stevens

were with the regiment
when it shipped out for Europe.

I was young and I was looking
for adventure,

I wanted to see what was over there,
I hadn't been there...

And far as the war was concerned,
I hadn't given it much thought,

you know, as far as fightn',
in the battle.

For most of the young GIs,

the voyage to join the war against
the Nazis was an adventure.

They weren't much interested
in politics.

Bob Slaughter,
from Roanoke, Virginia,

went to war at the age of 19.

His unit was one of
the first ashore on D-Day.

We didn't have the foggiest notion
what was going on.

We knew that something big
was going to happen,

but we had no idea
that was gonna be us.

We could tell from the equipment

that was piled up in the fields
and in the woods,

just tons and tons of it,

all kinds of tracked vehicles,
airplanes with their wings folded,

cans, cases, food, water,

jerry cans of gasoline,
just all over the place.

So we knew something big
was gonna happen.

Of course we had been training
with the amphibious assault group,

with the Navy, the Coast Guard,

so we suspicioned
it was gonna be us,

but we didn't know
we were going to be first.

Preparations on this scale
were impossible to conceal.

Units such as
the 29th Infantry Division,

seen here aboard HMS Empire Javelin,

rehearsed every detail for weeks.

They cleaned their weapons
again and again.

Large as it was,

the Allies tried to make their army
appear larger still.

They wanted to convince Hitler
and his generals

that the landings in Normandy
would be only a diversion.

Plan Fortitude was one of
the great deception operations

of the Second World War.

It was an astonishing achievement
to be able to persuade the Germans

that first of all there might well
be an attack against Norway,

so as to keep the German divisions
in Norway bottled up there.

That was known as Fortitude North,

but the main operation
was Fortitude South,

which was to persuade
the German high command

that even if there was an invasion
or an attack on Normandy,

that was not the real invasion,
that the real one

was going to be coming
on the Pas des Calais.

And the great importance,
the great secret if you like,

of deception operations
is to persuade the enemy

of what they really believe

Plan Fortitude worked.
The Germans were deceived.

But not everyone
in the Allied high command

was convinced that Overlord
would be equally successful.

Eisenhower ordered
a full dress rehearsal

of the landings in South Devon
on the 27th and 28th of April.

It did not go well.

Warships fired on their own side,

fortunately, only with blanks,

troops milled around on the beaches,

vehicles and infantry landed
in the wrong order.

After the exercise,
Eisenhower's chief of staff

put the chances of establishing
a successful beachhead in Normandy

at no more than fifty-fifty.

The Americans were allocated
two landing beaches

on the western flank
of the invasion front.

They were codenamed "Utah"...

and "Omaha".

When we actually found out,
was in the marshalling area.

We were behind barbed wire,
in a tent camp,

and the officers called us in
by platoons.

And they had a big pyramidal tent

with a sand table
in the middle of the tent,

and of course it was Omaha Beach
with the Vierville draw.

We could see all of the ravines,
the beach itself, the shoreline.

We saw the obstacles on the beach.

And they also, every day,
would show us an aerial photo,

they'd bring 'em in,
they'd just been shot by P-51s

that fly over the beach.

And the next day
you could actually see

an improvement
of the fortifications.

The pillboxes and the bunkers,
some of them were not completed,

and then the next day you'd see
where they had poured concrete

and completed them.

And then the next day you'd see
soldiers in those bunkers,

and then you'd see barbed wire
going up and obstacles.

We just knew
what was going to happen.

The preparations had been meticulous.

But Operation Overlord remained
an enormous gamble.

Its success would come down
to the courage and skill

of a few thousand young soldiers,

many of them going into combat
for the first time.

At the dawn of D-Day,

the fate of Europe would hang
in the balance.

Captions (c) SBS Australia 2013

This program is captioned live. Bushfire fatality - one death as homes are lost in Victoria. A day of searing temperatures in NSW. I confess - Lance Armstrong finally admits he was a drug cheat but key questions still unanswered.I thought it was a very controlled public relations exercise.The tragic aftermath of the Algerian gas field siege with hostages killed. And a historic defence treaty signed by Australia and Britain.

Good evening and welcome to the program. We begin tonight with Australia's bushfire crisis. One man has been killed and at least five homes destroyed by a massive blaze in eastern Victoria. The man's buddy was found in a burn -- buddy was found in a burnout car at Seaton. Two homes were also lost in the Bega Valley in NSW. Fire burning in a number of locations across the state,. In eastern Victoria, the battle -- state. In eastern Victoria, the battle against the flames has intensified. This man tried in vain to save his home against impossible odds. Another has tried odds. Another has tried to fight against a fire that was intense, aggressive and fast-moving - a powerful combination in perfect bushfire conditions. He was forced to leave. So were others.Let's go. Jump in, mate.What was a large fire last night turned into a monster today. A blaze in Gippsland that trebled in size and was burning across 48,000 hectares. As the wind switched to s the wind switched to the south-west, a number of communities suddenly became targets. In Glenmaggie, a wall of flames lit up trees. Emergency warnings have been downgraded for all areas, meaning residents may be allowed to check their homes. Even with the expected cooler temperatures and weakening winds, this is a blaze which may still burn in wild bushland for weeks. The Premier toured areas where residents were assessing their losses. He's promised assistance.We need to work together to do whatever we can to put these areas back together.In NSW, a massive fire in Coonabarabran broke containment lines this morning, providing crews with a day-long battle. By morning it had reached homes 50 kilometres south of the town.We've experienced high temperatures throughout the week and this is certainly going to be the highest temperature so far.Kevin worked through the .Kevin worked through the night to save his son's house and stock.I left here about midnight and I told Doug at worst- cis scenario, probably 10 days or four days and we spent four hours and it was on his doorstep.Fures were burning doorstep.Fures were burning in the south of the state and the Hunter Valley. Emergency warnings have been lifted. And Victoria still faces a major challenge tonight and into the weekend. Gary Weir from the Country Fire Authority has this update. It's still a very serious situation. We still haven't been actually able to start working on the major fire front. We're soon going to start under the southerly winds attacking the actual edge of the main fire and starting to do some containment activities. The best thing we can hope for to pull this up a lot quicker because it's a big job and will take a while to contain the whole fire, is to have some rain. The Weather Bauro has cancelled a severe weather -- Bureau has cancelled a severe weather warning for NSW. Amid the current fire emergency in Victoria and NSW, in Canberra, they've marked the 10th anniversary of the ACT bushfire disaster. The 2003 inferno killed four people, injured hundreds more, and destroyed homes of homes. It was a decade ago but survivors of the Canberra bushfires recall it like it was yesterday.The whiff of smoke, the wind. And it's fresh again.Hundreds gathered at the memorial site of the fires at the base of Mount Stromlo. For many, the ceremony mlo. For many, the ceremony was an opportunity to put the disaster behind them.This is getting rid of the monkey on our backs.I think it's closure. It's 10 years.Others saw it as a chance to give thank yous for what they have. The theme of too's commemoration is reflection and looking forward to the future. For survivors of the bushfire, the initial trauma of the inferno was soon eclipsed by the massive task of rebuilding, a task that continues today. The bushfires ripped through 70% of the capital, destroying 500 properties and killing four people. The Observatory at Mount Stromlo was incinerated. With extreme fire conditions sparking new blazes across the country, many are mindful of the ever-present riv. We're all feeling for -- risk. We're all feeling for fellow Australians. And to those even today are protecting themselves and their homes.Rob de Castella lost his home and the family pet in the 2003 fires. This tested his mettle. We need to be tested from time to time to give ourselves a chance to rise to those challenges and to be proud of ourselves.He credits a positive attitude and overwhelming community support with getting him through the ordeal. Today's commemoration honours that above everything else.Canberra, our nation's capital, our city, has a very big our city, has a very big heart. Today, along with our own memories, let's remember that.A community shining a light on one of its darkest days. On a lighter note, people in Sydney can look forward to a decent night's sleep tonight. Temperatures have plungeed following its hottest day since records began more than 150 years ago. It reached 45.8 degrees just before 3pm at Observatory Hill, smashing a 74-year-old record. It was even hotter in the city's west. The temperature in Penrith topped 46.5 degrees. Paramedics responded to dozens of cases of heat exposure but the extreme heat didn't deter music lovers at the Big Day Out. The previous record of 45.3 was reached on January 14, 1939. Coming up after the break - the Armstrong confession that raises more questions than it answers.