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Memorials honour Aussies and allies in PNG campaign.



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Media Release The Hon Danna Vale MP   Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Federal Member for Hughes

VA138 Saturday 2 November 2002

MEMORIALS HONOUR AUSSIES AND ALLIES IN PNG CAMPAIGN

A group of Australian World War II veterans and war widows have remembered those who fought in Papua New Guinea at the dedication of memorials marking the 60th anniversary of battles at Milne Bay and Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Danna Vale, and the Governor of the Northern Province (PNG), the Hon Bani Hoivo MP, today unveiled the upgraded memorial at Popondetta, the staging point for the Allied assault on the Japanese held beachheads at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

"The northern beachheads were the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the war in the Pacific and Australia's worst casualties of the Papua New Guinea campaign," Minister Vale said.

"The attacks against the heavily fortified Japanese positions cost hundreds of lives of Australian and Allied troops.

"This memorial honours those who made the ultimate sacrifice and the courage and persistence of those who endured these brutal battles in the defence of Papua New Guinea and Australia."

Yesterday, the Minister and the Governor of the Milne Bay Province, the Hon Timothy Neville MP, unveiled a new memorial built by the Australian Government to honour the Australians, Papua New Guineans and Americans who fought at Milne Bay.

The Minister said the Battle of Milne Bay, in late August 1942, was a turning point in the war, as Japanese forces staged a concerted effort to secure a base for naval and air support for the attack on Port Moresby.

"The Allied defenders, including 4500 Australian infantrymen and RAAF Kittyhawk fighters, drove off the enemy forces after days of bloody conflict, inflicting the first defeat of the war against a Japanese force on land.

"The memorials at Milne Bay and Popondetta are an enduring tribute to those who gave their lives and a place of quite reflection for future generations," the Minister said.

"It was an honour to pause in silence with those who fought, and those whose loved ones fought, with courage and determination here in Papua New Guinea 60 years ago."

Minister Vale said that the Federal Government was proud to have provided $1.5 million dollars for the Milne Bay and Popondetta projects, as well as the memorial at Isurava on the Kokoda Track unveiled by the Prime Minister in August.

The commemorative mission to Papua New Guinea will culminate on Monday 4 October with a remembrance service at the Bomana War Cemetery in Port Moresby.

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson (02) 6277 7820 or

0417 265 289

  Cindy West

(in PNG)

0011 675 693 7563

  Sarah Caporn

(Department of Veterans� Affairs) 0413 994 704