74th Commemoration Service of Operation RIMAU
Representatives from the Australian Commando Association both nationally and here in Queensland; veterans and their invaluable support services, prominently represented here today; ladies and gentlemen. A very special welcome to former 2nd/6th Commando Squadron member from World War II, Mr Keith Buck.
It’s wonderful to see so much Sherwood Green here today, so prominently contrasted with the battleship grey of the HMAS Diamantina.
As Governor of Queensland, it is my great honour to join you today.
I have proudly attended these dignified RIMAU commemorations every year since being sworn in.
I see this as an expression of the enormous debt of gratitude our people owe to those 23 brave souls assigned to Operation RIMAU in 1944.
They were servicemen – Australian and British – who dared to go well behind enemy lines. Their mission: to plant mines on enemy ships in Singapore Harbour.
They had no back up.
They had little technology.
As the unit motto goes, ‘foras admonitio’ – without warning.
Their plan read like a Hollywood script: tiny, battery-powered single-man submarines sneaking under the guard of the enemy before heading back to a secret island rendezvous and on to Australia.
But there was to be no cinematic ending.
Early on, their mission was compromised. Twenty-three lives were lost in direct fighting with the Japanese or later executed following their capture.
Seventy-five years on, it is difficult to conceive neatly of the perils they faced, or the enormity of their sacrifices.
But what we do know, is that that mission embraced the very essence of what it is to be a Commando: fierce loyalty, courage, ingenuity and a certain amount of pluck.
Training for this type of work forges bonds amongst comrades perhaps stronger than those experienced by most service personnel.
This partly explains why so many continually turn out for these commemorations – to honour the sacrifice, the skill and endurance of those who pushed themselves, past and present, so hard to earn the beret with the stiletto dagger.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention the wives, partners, mothers and relatives of Commandos. Many of you may never have worn a uniform or held an official rank, but you so often carried the burden of this specialist unit.
Constant worry during training cycles and operations…
Sometimes you were the only ones there to mend broken hearts and damaged thoughts when they came home.
To our Special Forces service personnel and their families, on behalf of Queenslanders, thank you for your dedication, resilience and beneficial defence of our nation.