Australian Commando Association Queensland 72nd Commemoration Service of Operation RIMAU
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. There are few to whom this country owes a greater debt than to those who fought in the Second World War.
We who have not fought seek to comprehend the scale of the sacrifices made by those who did, and to understand the magnitude of their contribution to the liberty we enjoy today.
On this solemn occasion, we salute the 23 Australian and British servicemen of Z Special Unit who departed Fremantle in September 1944 as part of Operation Rimau.
We honour their service and acknowledge their sacrifice.
The official history records that the training to qualify for Operation Rimau was exhaustive and strenuous.
These men were the best of the best.
They displayed great skill and gallantry as they sought to fulfil their perilous mission to attack Japanese ships in Singapore Harbor.
And they were faithful, even unto death.
Ten were put on trial for espionage, found guilty and horrifically beheaded.
The others were killed in action, died while captive or were killed trying to escape.
On behalf of the people of Queensland, I have paid my respects at the memorial headstones of those who lost their lives in Operation Rimau, at Kranji Cemetery in Singapore, and for the last three years now at these vitally important Brisbane commemorative services.
Many of those killed in Operation Rimau have no known graves.
At the headstones of their mates, I bowed my head in remembrance.
Today we reflect on the heavy burden their service, kept secret for so long, placed on their nearest and dearest, and recognise the profound grief of their families.
We also acknowledge that while these men lost their lives, their impact was substantial.
As the Special Operations Commander Australia, Major General Jeff Sengelman, DSC, AM, CSC, said of the men of Operation Rimau: “To know that there were men like this, willing to undertake such risks, so far away, without any support and who could strike them anywhere, at any time, had a profound effect on the enemy.”
The courage and resourcefulness of the men of Operation Rimau is a shining legacy to their successors in today’s Commando Regiments.
Seventy-two years on, I commend the Australian Commando Association of Queensland for their fidelity to the memory of the men of Operation Rimau.
On behalf of the people of Queensland, in whose name I am privileged to speak, I honour the service and sacrifice of those who served as part of the Z Special Unit and lost their lives as part of Operation Rimau.
We will remember them.