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Veterans re-visit battle sites to commemorate the end of WWII.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

M i n i s t e r f o r V e t e r a n s ’ A f f a i r s

M i n i s t e r A s s i s t i n g t h e M i n i s t e r f o r D e f e n c e

T H E H O N. D E - A N N E K E L L Y B E M P

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (02) 6277 7820 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4140

VA126 Wednesday 7 September 2005

VETERANS RE-VISIT BATTLE SITES TO COMMEMORATE THE END OF WWII

Veterans will travel to Singapore and Papua New Guinea on separate missions to commemorate the end of World War II, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, De-Anne Kelly, announced today.

Mrs Kelly said Australian forces had played a major role in the Pacific theatres of war and it was important to honour those who fought and died defending Australia.

“Australian servicemen and women fought in campaigns in Malaya, Singapore, the Indonesian archipelago, Papua, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Borneo, Burma, the Indian Ocean and the Philippines.

“More than 19 000 Australians lost their lives in the Pacific war, with 15 000 wounded and more than 22 000 made prisoner of war. Of these prisoners of war, more than 8000 died in captivity,” Mrs Kelly said.

The first mission will visit Singapore from 8 -12 September, commemorating the Japanese surrender on 12 September 1945. As well as attending a commemorative ceremony at Kranji War Cemetery, where more than 2000 Australians are buried and commemorated, the mission

party will attend a service and museum exhibit launch at the Changi Chapel and Museum.

“Four former prisoners of war, together with an Australian survivor of the sinking of HMS Repulse, are travelling to Singapore to represent Australian veterans including all those held at Changi during the war.

“This mission will provide these men with an opportunity to honour all those who served and those who would never return home.”

The second mission of ten veterans, including two ex-servicewomen, will be in Papua New Guinea from 11-17 September and will visit several locations where Australian forces fought the Japanese in some of the final battles of the war.

“One of the highlights of this mission will be the commemorative ceremony at Cape Wom, where the final Australian campaign in Papua New Guinea ended with the formal surrender of the Japanese 18th Army on 13 September 1945,” Mrs Kelly said.

“The mission party will also participate in commemorative ceremonies at Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby, the Coastwatcher Memorial at Madang, Lae War Cemetery and Bita Paka War Cemetery, Rabaul.”

The Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd) will join the veterans at the Bomana and Cape Wom ceremonies.

“Both of these commemorative missions serve to remind us of what our servicemen and women achieved during the war and will help ensure that their stories endure in the hearts and minds of Australians for generations to come,” Mrs Kelly said.

Media contact: Craig Clarke 0417 889 423

A list of veteran representatives for both missions follows

2

Singapore mission

Name Service State

Cyril Gilbert OAM Army Queensland

Gavin Campbell Navy New South Wales

Norman Anderton MBE Army Queensland

Sydney Sanders Air Force Victoria

RADM Guy Griffiths AO DSO DSC RAN (Retd) Navy New South Wales

PNG mission

Name Service State

Hubert (Harry) Bell Army New South Wales

Arthur (John) Blenkin Navy New South Wales

Joan Farrell Army New South Wales

Mervyn (Laurie) Hill Army Victoria

John (Jack) Holder Army South Australia

Eric Isaacs Army Queensland

Lucy Lane RAAF Victoria

Desmond Meagher Army New South Wales

Grant Watson RAAF Queensland

Bertram Woodhouse Army Western Australia

Media contacts (for veteran interviews):

Sharon Patrick (Singapore - Department of Veterans’ Affairs) 0411 257 073

Sarah Caporn (PNG - Department of Veterans’ Affairs) 0413 994 704