Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
From Russia with love: lost diaries of Australian World War II soldiers to return to owners after nearly sixty years

The return of two 'lost' World War Two diaries to their owners in Melbourne tomorrow will provide a poignant occasion for the Federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Bruce Scott, to announce a new community awareness and education program to encourage the preservation of war memories and memorabilia.

During the launch, one diary will be returned to its author, an 85 year old veteran from Brisbane. Another will be presented to the niece of a veteran from western Victoria, and will complete a set of four held by his family.

One of the diaries was lost during the Allied withdrawal from Greece and Crete in 1941. Both diaries came into the possession of the Russian forces at the end of the war and have since spent decades sitting quietly on a shelf in a Moscow archive.

While the return of the diaries will undoubtedly be the sentimental highlight of the launch in Melbourne tomorrow, the event is intended to lift community awareness of the need to preserve our national war heritage at the local level.

Communities are being encouraged to do this in keeping with the spirit of the Government's four-year "Their Service - Our Heritage" commemorative program which will culminate on Anzac Day 2001.

Representatives of the media are invited to attend the launch of the community program and the handover of the diaries which will occur as follows:

Date: Thursday 26 February

Time: 10.30am Official Program commences

11.10am Pictorial and interview opportunities

Venue: Colonial room, Sergeants mess, Victoria Barracks, 256- 310 St Kilda Road, Southbank, Melbourne

Carparking: Entry via South Gate

For further information:

Melissa McKerihan, Media Advisor, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, 02 6277 7820; O419 607 783

Phil Diak, Media and Communications Director, Department of Veterans' Affairs, 02 6289 6578; 0411 107 261