Battle for Australia Memorial Dedication Ceremony and Commemorative Service 75th Anniversary
Representing our Premier, the Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham MP; the Honourable Cameron Dick MP; representing the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Matthew McEacham MP; Councillors; Major General Paul McLachlan AM CSC; Commander Mark McConnell; other senior defence representatives; ladies and gentlemen; girls and boys.
It is my great honour to join you all for today’s Battle for Australia Memorial Dedication and service.
Even allowing for our current turbulent situation, never was there a time when our modern nation was so threatened than during the Second World War 75 years ago.
The progression of the Japanese down the Malayan peninsula, followed by the swift capitulation of Singapore in February 1942, had imperilled Australia’s security. Our sense of isolation was shattered four days later when 242 Japanese planes bombed Darwin.
The Allies fought across many fronts to repel the destabilising Japanese advancement to our north.
In the air, the Townsville-raised 75 Squadron provided the sole defence of Port Morseby over 44 epic days from March to May.
At sea, the combined Australian and American naval forces spectacularly halted advancing Japanese ships in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
And on the ground, at places like the Kokoda Track, Australia and our Allies were engaged in some of the most vicious fighting of the Second World War.
It was the victory at Milne Bay – a Bay on Papua’s south east tip closer to mainland Queensland than Brisbane is to Townsville – where the so-called “spell of invincibility of the Japanese” was broken, heralding a major turning point in the war in the Pacific.
And while it is the anniversary of that battle which has been chosen as Battle for Australia Day, the first Wednesday of September is reserved for honouring the service and sacrifice – as the inscription on the plaque reads – of all “Australian men and women and their Allies who fought the Battle for Australia, South and South West Pacific Areas (from) 1942 (to) 1945”.
I thank and congratulate past and present members of the Battle for Australia Commemoration Committee, Queensland, particularly current President Major O’Keefe, and all involved in facilitating the memorial’s relocation, necessitated by the Queen’s Wharf project.
I can think of few more appropriate permanent homes than here, beside the Battle of Milne Bay Memorial Library and Research Centre at the Historical Precinct in Chermside, a suburb itself named after a distinguished military man, turned Queensland’s 9th Governor, Sir Herbert Chermside.
I am especially glad, that in this 75th anniversary year of the Battle for Australia, the memorial will receive a ceremonial dedication befitting the significance of the service and sacrifice of those whose legacy it seeks to preserve. Thank you for your participation and attendance.