AUSTRALIA REMEMBERS COMMEMORATION: 1945-1995
The Hon. M. R. EGAN
(Treasurer, Minister for Energy, Minister for State Development, Minister Assisting the Premier, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [11.04]: I move:
That this House commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II on 15 August 1945 and remembers with respect and appreciation those citizens who gave their lives in the defence of Australia between 1939 and 1945, together with all Australians who have participated in defending the freedom of Australia in World War II.
This has been a year when Australia has celebrated victory, remembering the end of World War II in Europe and in the Pacific, remembering the coming of peace after six long years of war. Victory is always bought at a price, not measured in currency but in the lives, suffering and sacrifices of ordinary men and women. The suffering and loss in two world wars and other conflicts in which Australia has been involved spanned the whole community. Here in Sydney, in fact a few minutes away from this very Chamber, on the morning of 1 June 1942, 19 young Australians and two Englishmen died, the first and, one would hope, the last casualties of war in this city.
They were asleep in HMAS Kuttabul
, one of that series of wooden boats so well known to Sydneysiders which had been pressed into service as a dormitory at Garden Island for sailors in transit. On the night of 31 May, three two-man Japanese midget submarines attempted to enter Sydney Harbour. One was caught in the net, the other two got through. The prime target in the harbour was the cruiser USS Chicago
and at 12.30 next morning one of the submarines, M-24, positioned itself to fire a torpedo which, however, went under the cruiser to hit a stone wall under the wharf at which the Kuttabul
was moored. The explosion lifted the ferry, shattered its timbers and she sank. The 19 Australians and two Englishmen, most of them sleeping, were drowned - caught in the wreckage.
They were a cross-section of young Australians, all of whom had volunteered for service. There were seven from New South Wales, from a variety of community groups. There was Thomas Watson from Haberfield, a 24-year-old tram conductor; Bert Smith, aged 18, a farm worker from Taree; Les Robson, a 19-year-old clerk from Leichhardt; John Gannon, a steelworker from Port Kembla; Les Bland, a 20-year-old clerk from Paddington; Sydney Butcher, a 21-year-old miner from Kurri Kurri. There was one professional naval officer, Petty Officer Howroyd, from Penrith. Among the other Australians were: from Victoria, a fitter, a builder, a clerk and a boilermaker; from South Australia, two farm workers and a clerk; from Queensland, an apprentice plasterer and a farmer; and from Western Australia, a 23-year-old clerk.
There religions were recorded as Church of England, Catholic and other denominations, as the military tag put it, and, as well, the clerk from Adelaide was buried with Jewish rites. Both the Royal Navy personnel, Frank Kirby and David Trist, had previously survived being torpedoed and were on their way home. For some of the Australian families the parental loss would have been borne alone. Three records of New South Wales sailors showed mothers who were widows. Against the toll of a million dead in a vast and terrible war, the death of these young men, so near to this place, can perhaps seem small but to call the roll of names and their backgrounds is a reminder that behind the impersonal big figures of the historians there are individuals and their families.
There was no lack of big figures in World War II. In our three services, the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force, just over 27,000 men and women died. Most of these deaths occurred in the Pacific, in the war against Japan - some of them on Australian soil. More than 9,000 - one in three - died in the war against Germany. More than half of these were in the fierce air battles over Europe which went on until the very end. It is sometimes forgotten in Australia and in certain other countries how considerable our contribution was to the war against nazism. There were civilian deaths too: Australians in New Guinea, caught by the invasion; some of the brave coastwatchers in the islands north of Australia who played such an important role; and in Australia the casualties of the bombing in Darwin and Broome.
Closer to home sailors died in Australian waters. Off New South Wales in 1942 and 1943 17 ships were sunk by mines and torpedoes - some foreign, some Australian. Surprisingly, no consolidated tally exists of how many of our sailors were drowned but, to take two examples, the records show that 36 lives were lost when the Iron Monarch
was sunk off Montague Island in February 1943 and that in April of that year
was torpedoed off Port Macquarie with a toll of 32 dead. Australia was a nation with a population of only seven millions but it sent abroad 550,000 men and women in the three services - one in 12 of our population. Australians served in ships in the Arctic convoys to Russia, in the Mediterranean, in the Battle of the Atlantic, as well as in the Battle of the Coral Sea and in the Philippines naval clashes that finally crushed Japanese sea power.
The army served in Libya, Egypt, Palestine - where my father served - Lebanon and Greece. In the Pacific, soldiers fought in Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ambon and Timor, as well as in Papua New Guinea. I have already spoken of the RAAF's contribution in Europe. In the Pacific the RAAF was in action in Malaya from the first hour of the war. All this prodigious effort from a small country had to be supported by a vast reorganisation of our resources at home. Before the war Australia was basically a primary producer; by the end it had a platform to build an industrial nation. It was not only a matter of supplying our own forces but also of providing under lend-lease a significant proportion of the food for the American forces in the Pacific. This meant sacrifices for civilians through rationing and shortages. The challenge to Australian industry was great. To take only one example, we had no optical instrument manufacturing industry but by the end of the war we had mastered the necessary technology.
It was on the home front that the contribution of women was so important. But before looking at the record we should pay tribute to the 53 nurses of the Australian Army Nursing Corps who died in the Malayan campaign, in action, by massacre and through illness in captivity. As well, 11 nurses died when the hospital ship Centaur
was torpedoed off the Queensland coast in 1943. Women provided an important part of the armed forces' resources, although it might be noted that the first suggestion that women join the armed forces was met with savage criticism, even - I must be frank - from members of my own party. At the peak there were 20,000 women in the Australian Women's Army Service, 18,000 in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force and 2,000 in the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service. Women in particular played a vital role in radio message interception, enabling the breaking of Japanese codes, a story that has only recently been told. There was also a Women's Land Army with 3,000 members working to bring in the harvest with the men away.
Wartime industry could not have functioned without women. In June 1944 there were 716,000 women working in industry. In the crucial munitions factories more than 50,000 women were employed, one in three of the work force. Their pay was two pounds a week, a little over half the male wage, but they did get the munificent sum of one shilling and sixpence a day danger money! Apart from those women who worked in industry there were those who, like the widowed mothers of the three young sailors from Garden Island, gave so much. A war leaves widows, orphans and bereft parents.
We have been proud to have a repatriation system which can withstand contrast with any other similar system in the world, a system which meets our continuing obligations. But no payments of money later can compensate for the losses the families suffered. The repatriation system also had its role in the continued caring for those who were suffering from the effects of their wounds. The overall statistics for the wounded give no breakdown of the gravity of the wounds, nor the long-term effects. The repatriation hospitals throughout Australia are closing now but for generations they have helped those who suffered long after the victory parades were over. In New South Wales we were fortunate to have for most of the war William John McKell as Premier. New South Wales was the heartland of our industrial growth and the hub of much training effort for our armed services. All that effort required the development of our State infrastructure far beyond the need of the time between the wars. Bill McKell brought to this task a sure touch in handling people on all sides, his industrial background helping him in smoothing the way for functioning industrial relations.
Most importantly, as the Premier of the nation's largest State, he was a loyal and vital support to our great wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin. When John Curtin took over as our Prime Minister in October 1941 it was on the eve of our greatest national crisis. Within months men were to die in Sydney Harbour and our sailors were to drown a few miles off our coast. Now in hindsight we know that Japan backed off an invasion attempt on Australia but there was always a significant faction within the Japanese navy which wanted an invasion. In the first months of 1942 we could see only the real possibility of invasion. In that climate the British wanted to throw one division of our few remaining trained troops into the losing battle for Burma, but Curtin did not flinch from firm refusal. When General MacArthur came - a man not always the easiest ally - John Curtin handled him diplomatically and patiently. He carried the burden of leadership without respite in those days and in the end paid the price. I can only quote the judgment of Paul Hasluck as Official War Historian before his later careers:
Curtin, a wholly committed man who had given everything he could and who had done so much good for the war, became one of the most tragic casualties of the war.
There might be disputes about other wars but we can say with certainty that World War II was a just war. The vileness that was nazism had to be resisted and destroyed. Japan had fallen under the power of a warped military ruling class which was prepared to wage war. But for all the war's justness, as in all wars, there was a terrible price to pay. I cannot say that I move this motion with pleasure given that price, but I can say that it is indeed an honour to lead for the New South Wales Government in acknowledging those who paid the ultimate price. I commend the motion.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD
(Leader of the Opposition) [11.18]: I am honoured and humbled to second the motion of the Treasurer to remember those
Australians who bravely fought for this country to maintain the way of life of which we had become so proud. I am honoured to be able to speak of those ordinary men and women who became the heroes defending this country, and humbled because the task they successfully executed was so massive and performed dutifully without question. When one remembers the day of happiness that was the end of six years of war - the homecomings, the family reunions and the security of peace - one is forced to remember those who fought and died for their country, those who were injured and those widows and children who lost so much.
On 3 September 1939 Prime Minister R. G. Menzies announced that Australia was at war. World War I had turned into a bloodbath and the conflict in Europe, combined with the ever-increasing threat from Japan possibly requiring Australia to mount home defence, meant Australians were anxious. However, the dedication to preserving our democratic society, preserving our way of life from the aggressive, imperialist attitude of fascism, overcame all, and Australians went overseas to fight. Our troops were sent to the Middle East and the Mediterranean to defend Egypt, where they were victorious, and to Greece, where they suffered devastating losses. Australians went on to defend Syria, to fight off the blitzkrieg tactics of the Germans in order to safeguard Tobruk, often using hand-to-hand fighting. And our troops were fundamental to a turning-point victory in World War II at El-Alamein. Victory in Europe gave a sense of joy, but loss in the Pacific was a growing problem.
In 1941 Japan entered the war, bringing Australia closer to devastation than it had been previously or has been since. The Japanese were rolling southward like a typhoon, overrunning Malaya, capturing impregnable Singapore, an event that impacted on my family, with the death of my mother's first husband in the initial attack on the island, and taking prisoner almost the entire 8th Division of the Australian forces. The Japanese accomplished this all in less than three months, and their war machine did not stop there. The Dutch East Indies fell soon after and following a brief resistance the Japanese took Rabaul. Finally, by April 1942, the Japanese were delivering heavy bombing raids on Darwin. The Australian troops faced the mud bath of the Kokoda Trail, where they suffered losses and were gun fodder for poor tacticians, causing untold loss and suffering. However, they were ultimately victorious and Kokoda joined the Australian honour roll, along with Milne Bay, Markham Valley and Shaggy Ridge.
The steamy jungle, difficult terrain, tropical illnesses and a determined enemy made it tough going, but finally the Japanese were driven out of New Guinea and General MacArthur's island hopping, aided by the solid support of Australian troops, was under way and Japanese surrender was in sight. The dark days for our troops in the Pacific only mobilised the troops at home and they rallied to help those abroad. Stiff measures were introduced domestically - rationing of petrol, clothing and foodstuffs; controlling manpower; and conscription. Meanwhile, air-raid precautions were introduced, trenches were dug in parks, schools and homes, and a blackout was introduced during the most crucial days of the war.
Women played a key role in releasing men for combat duty, taking up the tools of industry: the peak figure for women in the services reached more than 52,000 in 1944. At this stage nearly 750,000 women were in industry or in the forces. It was a national and cooperative effect to defend democracy, to preserve freedom. Then on 15 August 1945 the most devastating war of all time was over: 34,283 Australians had died, 180,864 were wounded, and 23,058 had survived the horrors of prisoner-of-war camps. The end of the war is what we celebrate, a return to normalcy - if there is such a term - a return to a safe, democratic society. We should always recall the end of the war and thank those who fought for our country. We remember lest we forget.
The Hon. R. T. M. BULL
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [11.24]: I feel very privileged to be here today to support the motion before the House and to participate in this commemoration to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. It is an occasion for us to honour and remember those thousands of dedicated and courageous Australians who sacrificed their lives and served in defending our country so that we can today live in peace and in freedom. Our nation is very fortunate to have enjoyed this peace and liberty in the past 50 years and Australia Remembers reminds us that we cannot take it for granted. The men and women who fought unselfishly for what they believed in and won are an inspiration to us all. Their strength, their sense of duty and their faith instils in us the values of what it means to be an Australian. We cannot imagine the suffering and despair they endured or just how deep their feelings must have run. However, I believe it is important that our generation must try to understand what their deaths mean for us. Although there are many accounts of hardship throughout the war, I would like to share with the House the experiences of my uncle, Dr Peter Hendry, who was then a medical officer in the 8th Division of the Australian Imperial Force and who is present in the gallery today. He recounted:
I was a young doctor in the 2/10 Field Ambulance, a unit whose members went through the short but bitter campaign in Malaya and Singapore and were taken as POWs together. Two thirds of the unit were sent off to Borneo and died on the infamous Sandakan death march. Most of the other third were sent to Thailand and Burma to help build (and I use the word again - infamous railway) myself with them.
I remember struggling through the jungle paths on our way from the Bangpong railway siding up to the Burmese border. We had been cooped up for days in steel trucks with little room, insufficient food, intolerable heat and no toilet facilities except through the doors of the trucks or beside the railway line at the infrequent stops.
We had been on the march for days. The men were exhausted, many had fever and most had diarrhoea. Mates were helping mates. As the march progressed from day to day more and more were casting their meagre belongings away and those who were relatively stronger were helping their weaker mates.
I recall buying a pewter mug from a shop in Singapore in early '42. Early in our captivity, when things were still feasible, one of our instrument boys engraved it for me. But when we set out on our long march north to work on the railway, I tossed it away. No point in burdening yourself with bulky souvenirs.
Weeks later, 100 miles north, with lots of fellows dying of tropical diseases and malnutrition, I had the job of burying a poor chap who had died of dysentery. Among his few belongings was my once-elegant, now sorry looking mug. He'd found it where I discarded it and he obviously hadn't been deterred from carrying it during those awful weeks.
None died on the actual march but there were some too weak to continue and despite protestations a number of these had to be left behind at each stopover.
I remember two officers, one a Roman Catholic padre and the other a brigade captain who were so exhausted at the end of one of the day's marches that they could hardly drag one foot after the other and their feet so blistered from the march that their boots were full of blood. When told that they would have to stay overnight and rest, the captain said, "And get separated from my men - no way!" The padre said, "I've joined this army to look after the souls of these my boys and there is no way you're going to make me give them up now!!" They both kept going.
Mates wanted to stay together so toward the end of the march there were some who were virtually carrying their fever ridden mates.
Finally the march was completed and in mud and slush in continual rain those who survived were dragged off to work: to work without sufficient nourishment under the brutal bashings of the Nipponese soldier engineers whose only aim was to complete the railway on time.
The result was that the weaker succumbed to malnutrition, dysentery, malaria and cholera. And those who died first were often those who exhausted themselves helping their mates. And I have not forgotten the sight of one of those who hardly made the finish of the march - but did survive - kneeling with tears streaming down his face holding his dying mate's hand: the mate who had helped him survive.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY
I am very proud to be associated with this commemoration today. It has taught us to be stronger, to appreciate what we have and to honour the memory of those that made it possible for us to have a secure future. It is important that we keep on remembering lest we forget.
[11.29]: The Australian Democrats support the motion before the House. Today, as Australia remembers, I want to remind honourable members not of the landing at Gallipoli, the charge at Beersheba, or the defence of Tobruk, but of the Kokoda campaign. The first time Australians fought to defend their homeland against a direct threat, without the protection of great and powerful allies, they fought along the Kokoda Track. Young men of the Australian Imperial Force and young militiamen faced the Japanese in New Guinea, along a jungle track that nobody at home had ever heard of. These were young men, unprepared and underresourced. There is no more tragic and damning story than that of the raising, deployment, equipping and training of the battalions that were sent to New Guinea. Following the war, the Barry commission report found that:
The troops were of the average age of eighteen and a half years, and had received no proper training. They were in the charge of inexperienced officers who appear to have had little or no control over them. They were inadequately equipped in every way; in particular, they were without much of the equipment necessary to give them any reasonable prospect of maintaining health . . .
Peter Brune, in his book Those Ragged Bloody Heroes
, made the point:
. . . it is more than a little ironic that the direct defence of the last fortress before the Australian mainland was to be initially undertaken by a small detachment of so-called "chocolate soldiers" from a brigade which . . . was apparently amongst the least trained, worst equipped and most inexpertly led forces in the entire Australian Army.
The term "chocolate soldiers" was used largely by members of the AIF to describe the militia, whom it was presumed, wrongly, would melt under the pressure of the heat of battle. History demonstrated how inappropriate that term was. The problem of living and dying confronted Australian soldiers daily on the Kokoda Track in the high Owen Stanley mountains. Their first ordeal was to endure the track itself. Distances were measured not in miles but in painful, muscle-wrenching hours clambering up steep mountain sides and down equally steep thousand-foot descents into narrow gorges. Along the worst sections of the track the path rose 1,200 feet up the famous Golden Stairs, dropped 1,600 feet and then rose another 2,000 feet to the other side.
These young soldiers carried between 50 and 70 pounds of equipment, most of which was found to be unsuitable. Some had half a blanket; others had nothing to keep them warm. They were fed so sparsely that most lost between two and three stone in a matter of six to eight weeks. It was in this mountainous, rain-soaked jungle that the young soldiers of the Second AIF and the Australian militia met and fought the Japanese, who were a brave and determined enemy. Of all the bloody engagements and battles along the Kokoda Track during July and August 1942, as the Australians fell back in a fighting retreat to Imita Ridge, none was more fiercely contested than the battle of Isurava. In front of this small Papuan settlement, General Tomitaro Horii threw the full weight of his South Seas force of five battalions. Facing them was the exhausted 39th Battalion, the 53rd Battalion and men of the 2/14 and 2/16 battalions who, as they arrived from the long struggle up the track from Uberi, were rushed forward to meet the Japanese attack. The account of the fighting at Isurava is full of instances of individual heroism and self-sacrifice.
Australians always value a soldier as much for his humanity as for his ability to withstand the grim tests of battle and terrain. Remember the man with the donkey, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, who rescued dozens of his wounded mates on Gallipoli. The spirit of Simpson lived on Kokoda in 1942. There are hundreds of stories that illustrate the care and compassion with which these young soldiers of the Kokoda Track tended their weak, wounded and sick. Tribute must also be made to the so-called fuzzy wuzzy angels of the Kokoda Track. Amidst, and in spite of, such great adversity these brave young men held the line. Those young veterans emerged bloodied but unbowed, the human spirit braced by the bonds of mateship and fortified by a fierce, unyielding pride. In 1922 at St Andrews University J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, delivered an essay on courage. I quote from part of that essay:
Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes. What says our glorious Johnson of courage: "Unless a man has that virtue he has no security for preserving any other." We should thank our Creator three times daily for courage instead of for our bread, which, if we work, is surely the one thing we have a right to claim of Him. This courage is a proof of our immortality, greater even than the gardens "where the eve is cool". Pray for it.
The chocos, in spite of what was said of them at the time and has been said of them since, had courage. Today I feel very proud to have the opportunity to take part in this commemoration. Today I pray for them, for their descendants and for their memory.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[11.37]: It is a great pleasure and a privilege to support the motion before the House:
That this House commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II on 15 August 1945, and remembers with respect and appreciation those citizens who gave their lives in the defence of Australia between 1939 and 1945, together with all Australians who have participated in defending the freedom of Australia in World War II.
It is fitting that we share in this special occasion as Australia remembers the end of World War II. Lest we forget; we shall remember them - not just today, but every day. We remember them on Anzac Day every year. I was in the Citizen Military Forces- Army Reserve for nearly 26 years. I studied military history at various times for promotion to different ranks. That gave me a deep understanding of the sacrifice and commitment of Australian servicemen in various parts of the world during World War II. I am aware of their sacrifice and courage in the face of death.
My participation in this debate is not a formality; it comes very much from my heart. My wife and I feel strongly about the events of World War II. We have often used our overseas visits to make a pilgrimage to the various battlefields in Asia and Europe. In the late 1980s my wife and I visited Thailand to physically travel the River Kwai, to travel on the railway that still exists, though in a dilapidated state, to visit the prisoner of war sites, to visit the huge war cemeteries and to pay tribute to the thousands of young Australians buried there. We visited the grave of my wife's young cousin, Gunner Keith Wright, aged 23, who was a member of the 8th Division. He was captured at Singapore and moved to Burma to work on the railway where so many died.
It was a privilege for my wife and me to gather in the prisoner of war chapel that has been rebuilt near Changi prison to offer prayers to honour those who died, their wives, children and family. We were reminded again of the sacrifice and bravery of young Australians. As other speakers have said, citizen soldiers made up the bulk of the Australian military forces that fought across the battlefields of the Middle East, Tobruk, Greece, Crete, North Africa, El Alamein, Burma, other parts of Asia and Europe. In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, my wife and I decided to spend some time at our expense conducting a pilgrimage to the European battlefields of World War II, particularly to visit the many cemeteries where thousands of men and women from the free nations of the world are buried, including Australians, who helped to ensure the final victory and stop Hitler in his tracks.
We visited Duxford, the Royal Air Force headquarters for the Battle of Britain, where many young Australians served in Spitfires. Their success and sacrifice halted the invasion of the United Kingdom and destroyed the might of Hitler's air force. We later visited Southampton, where troops gathered in assembly areas for operation Overlord - it was not an invasion but the freeing of Europe - the greatest seaborne landing in history. We walked along the Normandy beaches of Utah and Omaha. We visited the battlefields and were reminded of where my father fought in World War I in the bloody trenches of Flanders. We visited many centres and towns that are now part of history: Gascogne, Malmédy, where the Schutzstaffel murdered many helpless United States prisoners, Arnhem - A Bridge Too Far
- and some German cities such as Cologne.
The most moving part of our pilgrimage was our visit to the huge war cemeteries where thousands of young Americans, British and Australians who paid the supreme sacrifice lie buried. A huge memorial, in the shape of a powerful young man, at a cemetery in France had at its base the words from the old hymn "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the . . . Lord." That reminded me of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends", as our Lord himself set the example on the Cross at Calvary.
Let us never forget the brave men and women who gave their lives for our nation. They did so for "God, King and country", but also for their wives and children, for their families, their friends and for future peace and prosperity, which we now enjoy in Australia. They purchased it with their blood. I am reminded of the book The Fatherland
- honourable members should read that book if they want a chill - which portrays what would have happened in our lives in the horrible circumstance of the nazis winning World War II. Yes, Australians have made a lasting impact on the history of the world: the Anzacs did so in World War I and again with great honour in World War II and other wars. I would stress that this was not done through force of arms, modern technology or overwhelming numbers, but through sheer courage - what we commonly describe as guts. It was achieved through courage combined with mateship, that indefinable unique spirit of Australians. Mateship is even stronger today between the comrades who served together 50 years ago. We salute each one of you on this day of commemoration, as we shall salute you each Anzac Day in the coming years. As representatives of millions of Australians who faithfully served our nation in peace and in war, we salute you.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH
[11.45]: As we approach the conclusion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II it is time to remember the sacrifices of so many who gave their
lives in the service of freedom, those who were wounded or maimed and those who remained at home to carry out essential services. It is a time to remember that 56 nations found themselves at war between 1939 and 1945. But whereas in Europe the comprehensiveness of Axis defeat and the immediate reality of a new balance of power with the end of hostilities precluded further war, in the Far East the end of the Japanese war ushered in a period of upheaval and revolution that was to last some 30 years before the forces of local nationalism and communism and great power interests resolved themselves in such a way as to produce some form of settled and recognised order in the area. However, technically, it is in this same area that the last unfinished business of the Second World War remains.
It is a time to remember that Germany and Japan attempted to wage wars with unlimited ends, but limited means ended in disaster for Japan, predictably, but for nazi Germany less so. Of the two, Germany's was the greater defeat. The nation that prided itself on military power and prowess lost the war after holding potentially decisive advantages that should have provided her with victory. She did not merely lose the war; she ceased to exist thereafter. It is essential for all Australians to realise and remember the sacrifices that were made during the Second World War. The service casualties from a gross enlistment in Australia of around 993,000 people in World War II killed in action or dying as prisoners of war in the Royal Australian Navy were 1,900; in the Australian Army, 18,713; and the Royal Australian Air Force, 6,460 - a total of 27,073. The number wounded in action was 23,477, and the number made prisoners of war was 22,264. The human cost is not known with the accuracy of the numbers that were killed during the Second World War from across the nations. Germany and Japan lost about 7.4 million and 2.1 million dead respectively.
The two naval powers were spared the horror of continental warfare and wars of racial annihilation. Britain lost about 430,000 and the United States about 220,000. The Soviet Union, including the Baltic States, lost perhaps 22 million. It has been alleged that of all soviet males born in 1923, only 3 per cent were alive in 1946. Certainly, the war represented a lost generation for Eastern Europe. Yet compared with the cost that would have been exacted by a German victory in Europe and a Japanese victory in the Far East - the physical, moral and intellectual enslavements of continents - perhaps the human cost involved in the destruction of evil was not great but small in the balance of history and a small price to pay for ridding the world of depraved wickedness.
We remember the men in the Royal Australian Navy whose ships fought in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific; the soldiers who fought in the Western Desert, Crete, Burma, Malaysia and New Guinea; the airmen who flew in the Battle of Britain, the Pathfinders and the prisoners in Europe, Singapore and Burma. We remember the Aboriginal coastwatchers, the fuzzy wuzzy angels and all those deserving our recognition. It is a time to remember those who did not leave our foreshores to fight the enemy overseas and a time to remember those who worked so hard for the country in the factories and on the farms providing the supplies so vitally needed to fuel the Australian war effort. I think particularly of the Australian Women's Land Army that was established in July 1942. The purpose of the land army was to supplement Australia's supply of rural labour engaged in food production. Women aged between 18 and 50 who were not from rural families or already employed on the land were eligible to join.
Land army members were obliged to go where directed and to undertake any work they were allocated by their employers. I recall that at the launch of "Australia Remembers" at the showground a Mrs Williams who joined the land army told us a tale about how she went to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and was taught how to drive a tractor. One day she got bogged and had to walk back to the homestead, where she saw the boss. She told him that the tractor was bogged. He said, "Bad luck. There's the shovel." So she had to get the shovel and go about digging out the tractor. What a wonderful thing it was that those women gave of themselves to keep our food supplies going. It is easy to forget just what they did.
We will remember, too, those who have done so much to help the victims of war - the widows, the mothers and the grieving children - whether through voluntary agencies such as the Returned Services League, Legacy and other veterans organisations or through the repatriation department Australia has a proud record of care for its veterans and war victims, and we should remember with a real sense of gratitude the men and women who have given so much. I congratulate the Hon. Con Sciacca, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and I fully support this coordinated initiative to ensure that all Australians will remember the horrific years between 1939 and 1945. It is as members of Parliament that we honour all those who served so gallantly in that horrific war. Indeed, it is "A Time to Remember".
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN
[11.52]: I share with honourable members the words of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies:
It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that, in consequence of a persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement.
Great Britain and France, with the co-operation of the British Dominions, have struggled to avoid this tragedy. They have, as I firmly believe, been patient; they have kept the door of negotiation open; they have given no cause for aggression. But in the result their efforts have failed and we are, therefore, as a great family of nations, involved in a struggle which we must at all costs win, and which we believe in our hearts we will win.
I constitute in a small way here today a link between those who fought and died and those who were children during the war years. I can remember distinctly not the words but the sombre and resonant
voice of Menzies on that night. This is a day for reminiscence. In my family home in Clovelly, Sunday night was the night that some neighbours and my family played pontoon - a card game that is also known as twenty-one. I can remember as an eight-year-old child sitting up in bed when the radio was suddenly turned up very loudly. I heard that voice, that man, advising my family and my father's friends that Australia was at war. Children can always sense tension in a household, and I assure honourable members that that announcement stopped the card game.
Australia was a different place at that time. It accepted the notion that if Britain was at war, so was Australia. That acceptance was something with which we were all quite comfortable. I had no idea of what was ahead - I was too young - but it was obvious to me as an eight-year-old that war would affect all the families in the land and all the children in the land. Through 1939 to 1945 my generation experienced the brownouts, the blackouts, the air-raid drills, the sandbags all over schools, the brown sticky paper on the windows, the hoods on motor vehicle headlights and the charcoal burners on the roof of those vehicles. I remember the marches through the streets, and particularly the marches up Martin Place of the Australian Imperial Force, the navy and the air force. I remember the food rationing; that to go to the local shop it was necessary to take ration coupons. I remember the army at the showground and the Kensington racecourse, the latter no longer there, of course. We had an air-raid shelter in our backyard.
I also remember, and with even greater spontaneity, the day on which Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and the evening on which Singapore fell. All that had gone before in our community from 1939 to December 1942 was as nothing compared with the tension that became fright. My parents were frightened, and as a consequence the children were frightened. Clovelly 40-odd years ago was a small and insular suburb. The casualty lists began to shock our little community. Young men who were no more than 10 or 12 years older than I were killed, particularly those from Clovelly and anywhere else in Australia who joined the air force. I knew those young men - they were big boys when I was a little boy. I remember them at school, and I remember their families - not them, because we never saw them again. By the time I was 12 John Curtin was my hero, and he has remained so to this day. His voice was brittle, honourable members might recall, but his delivery and his words were inspiring. I say: rest in peace John Curtin. This is a really memorable day for those of us here. I am prompted to repeat words from a song we use to sing at school, "God bless this lovely morning land, Australia."
The Hon. PATRICIA STAUNTON
[11.58]: I am honoured to be able to speak on this occasion, the occasion that marks the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, and in doing so support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government. It is appropriate and proper that we move this motion at a time and on an anniversary when we pay tribute to peace rather than to war. War, I believe, is a scourge on humanity, yet we seem incapable of avoiding it as a means of resolving conflict, whether that conflict have an ideological, ethnic, religious or other basis.
It is almost as if we accept as given that well-known phrase that those who cannot remember the past, and learn its lessons, are condemned to repeat it. As part of this world we demean ourselves in the horror of war and then, exhausted, we sue for peace. I pay tribute on the occasion of the anniversary we remember today to the role of women in two spheres of wartime activity: firstly, to those women who, as nurses, played such a magnificent front-line role in caring for the casualties of war in circumstances of extreme bravery and commitment. They were very much part of the front-line of conflict.
Secondly, as has already been commented on today, I pay tribute to those women who came to the fore in every sphere of civilian and family life in this country and who kept the wheels of industry and agriculture turning over, and did their very best at the same time to maintain the family unit in trying circumstances. I grew up in Townsville, North Queensland. That city was very much a staging post in this country for troop embarkation and supply lines in the Pacific and New Guinea. Growing up in Townsville I learned not only from my own parents but also from other women who talked about their role in Townsville during the war when playing their part in maintaining the many essential services. I was able to be part of that oral history, which is what it was, by listening. They emphasised the important, but often unacknowledged, critical role of women during those years.
Finally, on a personal basis, I pay tribute to the memory of my father, who was - and I stress the word "was" - a typical example of the young Australian male who answered the call for active service during World War II. He paid a heavy price. In so many ways his experiences exemplify the courage that is lauded in war time but is also the waste that is war. My father served in the 2/9 and later 2/11 Cavalry Commando Regiment in the Middle East and New Guinea from June 1941 to February 1946. Also, on a voluntary basis - which is hard to imagine today - he submitted himself to chemical warfare research undertaken by the Australian Army between December 1943 and March 1944. For that he received what I will call a certificate signed by General Blamey, Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces, which states:
Your Commanding Officer has brought to my notice your name for your voluntary act in submitting yourself to dangerous trials and experiments in chemical warfare research - Dec `43 to March `44.
I congratulate you on your devotion to duty and the fine example you have given to your comrades. I have directed that an appropriate note be made on your Record of Service.
It is very difficult to comprehend that or to see it in any light other than absolute futility. My father's devotion and his fine example, noted by General Blamey, led to his painful death from cancer some
years later. The relationship between his participation in those experiments and his cause of death was never disputed by the army or anybody else, and was never in doubt. The legacy he left, of course, was my mother's entitlement to a war widow's pension. I do not need to be reminded of the waste and futility of war. In paying tribute, as I have today, I can only continue to hope that one day mankind may see the wisdom of permanent peace and then people such as my father will truly not have made their sacrifice in vain.
The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN [
12.04]: I am proud to support the motion and I am honoured and humbled to be in the presence of the veterans who are in the House today. In 1933 General Sturdee warned that Japan would pose the major threat to Australian security. He said that the Japanese would act quickly, they would all be regulars, fully trained and equipped for the operations, and fanatics who like dying in battle, whilst our troops would consist mainly of civilians, hastily thrown together on mobilisation, with very little training, short of artillery and possibly of gun ammunition. General Sturdee's assessment proved prophetic, but our political leaders did not heed the warning. Military historian Dr David Horner said, "It is now generally agreed that the Australian defence policy between the wars and until the fall of Singapore was, at the best, naively optimistic, and at the worst, some might say, close to treason." Whilst our political leaders may have neglected their defence responsibilities, our Diggers, represented by the veterans with us in the House today, answered the call. In paying tribute to their sacrifices I refer to wartime journalist Osmar White, who captured the spirit of the Australian Diggers on the Kokoda Trail when he reported:
At Eora I saw a 20-year-old redheaded boy with shrapnel in his stomach. He kept muttering to himself about not being able to see the blasted Japs. When Eora was to be evacuated, he knew he had very little chance of being shifted back up the line. He called to me, confidentially:
Hey, Dig, bend down a minute. Listen . . . I think us blokes are going to be left behind when they pull out. Will you do us a favour? Scrounge us a tommy gun from somewhere, will you?'
Osmar White went on to write:
It was not bravado. You could see that by looking in his eyes. He just wanted to see a Jap before he died. That was all. Such things should have been appalling. They were not appalling. One accepted them calmly. This was jungle war - the most merciless war of all.
I was convinced for all time of the dignity and nobility of common men. I was convinced for all time that common men have a pure and shining courage when they fight for what they believe to be a just and shining cause.
That which was fine in these men outweighed and made trivial all that was horrible in their plight. I cannot explain it except to say that they were at all times cheerful and helped one another. They never gave up the fight. They never admitted defeat. They never asked for help.
I felt proud to be of their race and cause, bitterly ashamed to be so nagged by the trivial ills of my own flesh. I wondered if all men, when they had endured so much that exhausted nerves would no longer give response, were creatures of the spirit, eternal and indestructible as stars.
The late Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Honner, Commander of the famous 39th Battalion at the battle for Isurava, lamented:
How, then, do we remember them? Survivors of the bomb-loud battles of the ragged and the bloody might muse where sleep the brave whose gathered bones rest in the hushed, unsanguined beauty of Bomana. There they might review long lines of mute memorials immaculately dressed for that ultimate parade, seeing again the familiar names of the fallen - and almost their once familiar faces. And they might scan again the sundered years of their severed lives - "19", "18", "17" - and ponder the ravished promise of their perished youth. They died so young. They missed so much. They gave up so much - their hopes, their dreams, their loved ones. They laid down their lives that their friends might live. Greater love hath no man than this.
In paying tribute to our troops and to all other Australians who made such great sacrifices in our war effort we should ask ourselves if we truly appreciate and respect the sacrifices our veterans made for the freedom we enjoy today. For example, our Government has reduced our military forces to the extent where we can now put our entire navy, army and air force into the Sydney Cricket Ground, and we would still be able to sell tickets! There are echoes of General Sturdee's warning in this neglect of our defence force today. The national symbol under which our Diggers proudly fought, our Australian flag, is continually derided by our own Prime Minister, surely an unworthy insult to our veteran community.
Australian schoolchildren know more about the Alamo than they do about Isurava, and more about Davy Crockett than they do about Private Bruce Kingsbury, VC. That is surely an indictment of our education system. Our debt to the fuzzy wuzzy angels in Papua New Guinea has not been settled, and 53 years after the war they are still waiting for the pay our Government promised them in 1942. The governments of Greece and Malta struck a special commemorative medal for Australians who fought for the defence of their respective countries. Our own Australian Government declined to honour our veterans in a similar manner, but went for the cheaper option of a cardboard certificate instead. Mr President, I regret to say that the occasion of the commemoration of the end of World War II would have been more aptly titled "Veterans Remember - Australia Forgets"! I am reminded of a poem sent to me by a digger about two years ago, titled "Anzac Day". It signals to me why we should never, ever forget. I would like to share that poem with those present here today:
I saw a boy marching, with medals on his chest,
He knew it was Anzac Day, he walked along with pride,
he marched alongside Diggers, marching six abreast,
and did his best to keep in step, with the Diggers by his side.
And when the march was over, the boy looked rather tired,
"They belong to my Dad, but he didn't come back,
A Digger said "Whose medals Son?" to which the boy replied,
he died up in New Guinea, up on the Kokoda Track."
The boy looked rather sad, and a tear came to his eye,
He said, Your old man marched with us today, all the bloomin' way,
but the Digger said, "Don't worry Son, I'll tell you why."
"all us Diggers knew he was here, it's like that on Anzac Day."
The boy looked rather puzzled, he didn't understand,
"For this great land we live in, there's a price we have to pay,
but the Digger went on talking, and he started to wave his hand.
"to keep Australia free, and to fly our flag today.
"Yes, we all love fun and merriment, in this country where we live,
"For you to go to school my son, and worship God at will,
"But the price was that some soldier, his precious life must give,
"Somebody had to pay the price, so our Diggers paid the bill.
"Your Dad died for us my son, for all things good and true,
"And I hope you can understand, these words I've said to you.
"The boy looked up at the Digger, and after a little while,
"I know my Dad marched here today, this our Anzac Day,
"His face changed expression, and he said, with a beautiful smile,
"I know he did, I know he did, all the bloomin' way!"
On Kokoda Day in 1990, Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Honner reminded us that time may dull even the untarnished gold of their emblazoned battle honours; but the loom of ages cannot blur the pure oblation of their lives. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.
The Hon. J. R. JOHNSON
[12.13]: Mr President and honourable members, I support the motion before the House. Today this House is privileged to be able to pay rightful honour and homage to all those valiant, brave and noble Australians who served their nation in the great conflict of 1939-1945 in many fields of battle. They comprised the cream of our nation's youth. Some returned and some lay on foreign sacred soil, having given their all. When the call to arms bugle was sounded the young and the not so young heard it loud and clear, as their fathers had heeded the call some 25 years before.
Little did the forces involved in the 1914-1919 conflict think that some of them would again be called to fight, on the same battlefields, the same foe of yesteryear, along with their sons, while their daughters and wives again kept the home fires burning as well as playing other major roles at home and abroad later on. The men took up arms, not with relish or avarice for other lands, but with a sense of duty; and many never observed the shores of their beloved nation again. In all areas of conflict they fought with tenacity and with supreme, raw courage, their valour and fighting quality observed by all with awe from near and far. The despatches from the field told of unprecedented heroism, and it made our nation's people and leaders proud of their constant endeavours.
Many from this Parliament served. Indeed, our colleague the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith, who has already made a contribution, was one of them. In the gallery is the Hon. Sir Asher Joel, who also served. Many other personnel have joined us today. With the concurrence of the House I seek leave to incorporate the names of all members who were in the armed forces or who materially assisted the war effort in the permanence of the official proceedings in today's Hansard
ANDERSON, Keith William
ANDERSON, (Sir) Kenneth McColl
ASKIN, Robin William (Sir Robert)
BARRACLOUGH, Lindley J. Forbes
BATE, Henry Jefferson Percival
BEALE, Jack Gordon
BEGG, Colin Elly
BLACK, Ivan Carlisle
BOWEN, Lionel Frost
BRADLEY, William James
BREWER, Ronald Alfred St Clair
BROWN, James Hill
BRUXNER, James Caird
CAHILL, Frederick Joseph
CAHILL, Thomas James
CHAFFEY, William Adolphus
CLOUGH, James Arthur
COHEN, Morton Barnett
COX, Geoffrey Souter
COX, Peter Francis
CRAWFORD, Geoffrey Robertson
CRAWFORD, Jack Mitchell
CROSS, Douglas Donald
CUTLER, (Sir) Charles Benjamin
DOIG, Benjamin Cochrane
DOOHAN, John James
DUNBIER, Rowland Albert
DURICK, Vincent Patrick
EARL, Clarence Joseph
ELLIS, (Sir) Kevin William Colin
ERSKINE, Thomas Reginald
ESKELL, Stanley Louis Mowbray
EVANS, Hon. Beryl Alice
EVANS, Richard Kelynack
FERGUSON, Laurie John
FISHER, Colin Murray
FITZSIMONS, Herbert Paton
FLAHERTY, James Patrick
FORD, George Thomas
FRASER, Donald Stewart
FRENCH, Henry Bernard
FURLEY, Mabel Eileen
GRASSBY, Albert Jaime
GRIFFITH, Ian Ross
HAMILTON, Raymond George
HEALEY, Richard Owen
HUGHES, (Sir) Davis
HUMPHRIES, Edward Harris
JACKETT, John Gordon Thorne
JACKSON, Harold Ernest
JAGO, Arnold Henry
JARVIE, Milton Livingstone Fredericks
JOEL, (Sir) Asher Alexander
JOHNSTONE, Lewis Albert
KEANE, Maurice Francis
KING, Norman Leo
KIRKBY, Hon. Elisabeth
LEE, John Robert
LEWIS, Thomas Lancelot
LLOYD, Herbert William
MacDIARMID, Finlay Melrose
MACKIE, Gordon Charlton
MADDISON, John Clarkson
MAIR, Harold David
MANYWEATHERS, Richmond William
MARTIN, Clarence Edward
McGINTY, Laurence Frederick
McINTOSH, John Charles
McKAY, Thomas Sidney
MITCHELL, George Deane
MITCHELL, Harrie Robert Croft
MOORE, Harry Frank
MURPHY, Thomas Patrick
MUTTON, Lerryn William
NEILLY, George Henry
O'CONNELL, Hubert David
OSBORNE, Clive Geoffrey
PARK, Ernest Noel
PARR, Leslie James Albert
PELLY, Blake Raymond
PERCIVAL, Harold Gregory
PETERSEN, Wilfred George
PHILIPS, Peter Sydney Maitland
PRATTEN, Frederick Graham
REID, Albert David
RICHARDSON, Jack Frederick
RIGBY, William Matthew
ROBSON, Ewan Murray
RUTLEDGE, Thomas Lloyd Forster
RYGATE, Amelia Elizabeth Mary
SHIPTON, Perceval Martin Maurice
SLOSS, Albert Ross
SMITH, Robert Baron Rowland
SOLOMON, Eric Saxby
SOLOMONS, (Sir) Adrian
SOMMERLAD, Ernest Lloyd
STEPHENS, Stanley Tunstall
SULLIVAN, Henry Joseph Aloysius
TAYLOR, James Hugh
THOMPSON, Joe Slater
TULLY, Laurence John
TURNER, Henry Basil
WADDY, John Lloyd
WADE, William Arthur
WILLIS, (Sir) Eric Archibald
WOTTON, Roger Corfield Anson
The Hon. J. R. JOHNSON:
Happily, some are participating in the proceedings today. As a schoolboy I, like many others, dreaded seeing the telegram boy, the monsignor, the parson or the Salvation Army officer coming into the street because, although in the main they were going to give comfort, one always thought the worst. But sometimes it was a joy: the knowledge that a missing father, son, sister, brother or husband was alive but a prisoner of war. Many of their comrades did not forget their responsibilities to the fallen and to those who subsequently died and left widows and children. They came forward and founded Legacy to render succour and guidance to all who needed it, and thankfully it continues to this day. Their efforts were meritorious; gallant men and women personified in the person of one of our honoured guests today, Sir Roden Cutler, VC, who happily joins us for this commemoration, a man who served in war and peace with enormous distinction. Each time I recall the poem -
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars -
I think of the dome at the War Memorial, each star in that dome representing an Australian service person. But the stars of the firmament next to the Southern Cross tell me of those real stars of the conflict that shine brightly on the land which they served. I am indeed privileged to have taken part in this very special tribute to honour the many who gave up their lives, or much of their lives, to preserve our unique Australian way of life. We will be forever grateful for their great, noble and honourable deeds. May those who rest in peace, and their kin who were left behind, be content in the profound and firm knowledge that the peace that they gave their lives for we have enjoyed; a secure peace for over 50 years. This is their great legacy. You, as representatives of them, have honoured this Parliament today by your presence. May the peace secured continue to eternity. May God bless your fallen comrades and you who honour them with us today. Australia will always remember, as we do today, and future generations will continue to call them blessed.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI
[12.20]: I am proud to support the motion and humbled by the task and by the presence of so many great Australians. We sit here today to continue to deliver the freedom, justice and equality that so many people died for. We remember those who served in the war and those who, whilst at home, worked so hard to support them - those who gave up loved ones and who missed out on grandfathers and grandmothers. We remember and revere those who died. I remember my grandfather Bazzo, who arrived in Australia in 1880. He sent seven sons to the war. His firstborn, my uncle Jimmy, died as a prisoner of war in Changi. My grandfather Pezzutti sent four sons to the war. We celebrate the tradition forged by our service men and women and the high reputation they have gained through their involvement in war. We celebrate their honesty, doggedness, fairness, have-a-go attitude, courage and pride in being Australian. And we celebrate mateship. I especially join my colleague the Hon. Patricia Staunton in paying tribute to the doctors and nurses who served to save lives and alleviate the suffering of so many of our troops. Today we remember and commemorate the end of the Second World War, but Australia moved on to be involved in many major conflicts where aggression has had to be met: in Malaya, Vietnam and the Middle East; and Australian forces have served with the United Nations in many areas with equal distinction. I am proud of the sitting members of Parliament who served in the armed forces. I seek the leave of the House to incorporate a list of those members in Hansard
US Bronze Star
2/5th Independent Co.
|Army medical Services 39-45|
|Staff Sergeant Training 39-45|
|Army Medical Directorate|
US Army 44-45
|GOC 2nd Div.|
1st Div. 43-44
2nd Army 44-46
|Aust. Min. to USSR 43-46|
|2nd AIF 40-44|
|2/5th General Hospital 42-44|
Ewan DSO, CBE
|2nd AIF 39-45|
New Guinea & Borneo
|2nd AIF 40-44|
6th Div. Greece, Syria, New Guinea
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI:
I particularly remember members of this House who served - Sir Hector Clayton, the Hon. Frederick Kneeshaw, the Hon. Frederick Pratten and the Hon. Thomas Steele. I am but the sitting member who has most recently served with the Australian Defence Force. I was honoured to serve with an Australian Army contingent. Though I served relatively briefly, I learnt an awful lot about mateship and mutual support in such trying circumstances. I am proud of our members who came back from that war to serve
in this Parliament. I note the presence in the Chamber of the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith and the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby. I draw attention to my dear friends who also served in the war, the Hon. Dick Evans, DFC, and the Hon. Beryl Evans. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard
a list that I have compiled of the 82 members of Parliament who returned from the war.
2nd AIF 40-45
2nd AIF 41-46
New Guinea & Borneo
2nd AIF 45
Hon Lecturer - Air Force Reserve
(1st elected as Independent) 1942.
Joined Lib. 1948-73
2/1st Aust Inf. Bn
English Channel, N.Sea
P.O.W. Germany 42-45
Kingsford Smith 69-75
12th Field Reg. 1942-45
Reserve list WW2
7th Light Horse 38-40
joined RAAF 1940
discharged Med Unfit in 1942
joined 2nd AIF, Small Ships Co. New Guinea 42-46
2nd AIF 1st Armoured
2nd AIF 42-46
New Guinea &
Reg. Sgt Major
2nd AIF 39-43
N.Africa, Syria and
Ci Personnel Off
for Aust & US Army
DSO, MC, ED, CMF
2nd AIF 39-45
2nd AIF 43-45
2nd AIF 40-45
N.Africa & New Guinea
2nd AIF 39-45
N.Africa & Pacific
2nd AIF 1939
12th Sqdn. New Guinea
2nd AIF 40-44
2/13th Bn. 9th Div.
Staff Corps 39
2nd AIF 42-45
India & Burma
2nd AIF 42-46
2nd AIF 40-45
2/7th Commando Sqd. 42-46 New Guinea
2nd AIF 41-45
2nd AIF 40-46
2nd AIF 40-45
2nd AIF 40-44
2nd AIF 40-45
Middle-East & New
Milton MC, ED
War Area Officer
2nd AIF 42
2nd AIF 41-45
2/3rd Commando Sqd.
2nd Div. AIF 40-43
1st Div. AIF 43-44
Noel DSO, ED
2nd AIF 42-46
2nd AIF 41-43
2nd AIF 40-42
Thomas m.i.d. (twice)
2nd AIF 40-42
Newcastle Emer. services
2nd AIF 41-45
2nd AIF 41-45
2nd AIF 40-45
John OBE, DFC, m.i.d.
P.O.W. Germany & Poland
Sir Eric CMG, KBE
2nd AIF 41-46
New Guinea & Phillipines
7th & 2/5th Aust. Field
Regts. Royal Aust.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI:
We should also remember the migrants who came to Australia and served in the war. I acknowledge also the huge number of people who were interned during the war, migrants who were caught up in the security system. On a lighter note, I remember my grandfather telling me about the slaughter of his racing pigeons, whilst he had seven sons off at war, in case he should send messages to Mussolini. We know that many people suffered from their internship. We hope they have been able to put that behind them. I recognise the prisoners of war too, especially the Italians, who also contributed to our war effort. Many of them came back and stayed to help make Australia the great country it is today. We celebrate also the humanitarian spirit exhibited by Australia in opening its doors after the war to refugees from all around the world. I shall conclude my speech by quoting from former Minister for Justice and Vice-President of the Executive Council the Hon. R. R. Downing on the motion on 18 September 1945 to celebrate the end of hostilities. He said:
While we might be proud of the part we played and thankful for the part that the United States of America has played in helping to help defend Australia, nevertheless we must not forget Great Britain. In the early days of the war Great Britain stood alone. She had lost her Continental allies, and stood against what was then considered to be the world's greatest military power. It was the indomitable courage of her people under the guidance of Mr. Churchill's inspiring leadership that eventually led her to glorious victory.
That was said in the context of thanking our service men and women but I think we should also remember today our wartime allies. I am proud that this country, my country, has never been invaded and pray that my children will never have to fight in a war. I remember, and I will work to ensure that my children remember, the sacrifices of so many.
The Hon. I. COHEN
[12.27]: I support the motion to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. I humbly speak as a representative of the Greens and an activist in the peace movement. Today I pay my respects to the men and women who fought for the ideals and conditions we enjoy today. I also mention the nurses and the women and men who worked at home in support. It is with a sense of gratitude that I speak about those who made the supreme sacrifice for the rights of all Australians and for all the people of the world to live in dignity. As a worker for peace I recognise the aspirations of those who work in appropriate ways in defence of human rights and democracy and understand the inspiration of a society working as one on the war effort during the Second World War. While many amongst us are prepared to sacrifice their lives for those ideals, we must learn from history. We should insist on the resolution of conflict by negotiation, arbitration and persistent attempts to resolve issues in a non-violent manner. As a person of Jewish faith and descent, on this auspicious occasion I feel compelled to acknowledge the darkest aspects of World War II in the nazi holocaust in which six million Jewish people were exterminated in the most horrendous conditions along with people of other races and other mind-sets - any other culture outside the mind-set of Aryan nazism and fascism. Homosexuals and gypsies also perished in the most horrible conditions.
From the holocaust grew the modern state of Israel, its military leadership renowned. One such leader was Yitzhak Rabin, who led his country in war and with even greater bravery showed wisdom and courage to be at the forefront in pursuit of peace. He was a tragic casualty of that peace. As speakers before me have done, I shall draw attention to others. Although I am too young to directly remember the war years an image that has remained with me is that of the fuzzy wuzzy angels helping the Australian servicemen during World War II on the Kokoda Trail. It is deeply imprinted in our minds and in the textbooks for future generations to see. I refer also to the Timorese who, today, are still fighting to enjoy the freedom and peace that we take for granted. A recent article from the Sydney Morning Herald
There's been an unusual floral tribute at the Cenotaph this week - flowers spread across a charred log and a cross made from pieces of charred bush timber. It's the work of the Australia East Timorese Association, in memory of the victims of the Dili Massacre on November 12, 1991, and of the 40,000 Timorese who died under Japanese rule, many of whom hid, fed and supported Australian soldiers.
They must not be forgotten. It can be as difficult to work for peace as it is to oppose one's enemy. Among the brave old soldiers I have spoken to in recent times the desire for peace and justice is strong. I feel a growing together of our society as the years mature us all; that we can understand the bravery of all involved. I am happy and humble to support the motion.
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH
[12.30]: My generation was the first this century not to remember a world war as a personal experience. However, it affected many of us profoundly. My father was posted overseas when I was six weeks old, and when he returned three years later he and I were total strangers to each other. At least he did return, unlike so many others. In this important commemoration I wish to record my admiration for his courage and the courage of my uncles, on both sides of the family. All of them who were old enough to enlist did so. The youngest of them, Flight Lieutenant Lawrence Williams, who served in Dutch New Guinea and Borneo, is here with us today.
My father, Pilot Officer Cecil Herbert, was one of those often forgotten Australians who were seconded to the RAF, where he flew the Stirling Bomber "B for Beer" with number 38 group, in one of the moon squadrons. They were called that because they flew at night, on moonlit nights, under the enemy radar, ferrying supplies and people to the Resistance in Europe. My father also got to fly over D-Day four times, over and back twice, dropping paratroops in the pre-dawn and towing gliders later in the morning. To have flown over the greatest armada in the history of the world must have been an extraordinary experience, although CV and his crew at the time were more interested in making it home again. No wonder their part of Operation Overlord was called Operation Mallard, for they were indeed
sitting ducks for enemy fighters.
The survival rate for pilots such as my father was very low, but not as low as that of rear gunners - about four missions. My uncle Norman Williams was one such rear gunner. He was an Australian with the Halifax Pathfinders, flew an astonishing 99 missions - and came home again. He downed at least eight enemy night fighters, two on the one mission and one of these when he had been shot, his gun turret had jammed and he had to direct the pilot how to manoeuvre the plane so that he could get the enemy in his sights. To all those uncles and my late father, and to every brave man and woman who endured those years, put their lives on the line, and in many cases lost them so that I and my generation might grow up in freedom, I want to say just two words - inadequate though they be - thank you.
Honourable members and distinguished guests, it is my very great pleasure to be associated with this motion. I would like to extend to all our visitors today a very warm welcome to the Parliament - the Parliament of the people of this State. I thank you for coming, veterans, representatives of veteran organisations, and representatives of the consular corps. I thank you for joining with your Parliament today in this great motion of remembrance.
The word "remember" means to keep in the memory, to not forget, and to bring back into one's thoughts. I calculate that indeed there are not more than 10 members of this honourable House who have personal recollections of World War II because they were either but babes or were born after the war. I am one of the members who have childhood memories of the war. I was but four years old when war was declared in 1939 and, like my colleague the Hon. B. H. Vaughan, I remember vividly those words intoned by the then Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, "Fellow Australians. It is my melancholy duty . . .". It came over the wireless, as we called the contraption in those days, in our living room.
But still as a small child I did not know what war meant, even though I saw it and remember it: the banner headlines, that stark one word "War" on the front page of the newspaper in the village of Tyalgum, 15 miles west of Murwillumbah where my family lived - a place well known to the Hon. J. R. Johnson and the Hon. Ann Symonds. As a child I watched with bewilderment the old men and those medically unfit form themselves into the Volunteer Defence Corps, wearing their rather silly maroon-dyed uniforms and drilling with broomsticks because they had no rifles. Still I did not know what war meant, but I soon learnt as time progressed: it meant that my father and my beloved brother Eric went away to the army and my other brother went to boarding school. They were no longer there to entertain and amuse their baby brother.
It meant that my mother and I left the secure warmth of our family home and followed my father and brother Eric to their various places of postings, as a result of which I attended 13 different schools in three years and lived in numerous places of temporary residence, usually with relatives. I remember it meant food rationing, permits to travel, blackout curtains, air-raid sirens, air-raid shelters and air-raid drills at school, and air-raid wardens knocking on the door at night to say they could see a chink of light. It meant horrendous newsreels at the movies which would not pass the censor today. It meant recruiting rallies in Martin Place, which I witnessed, where that glorious Australian Gladys Moncrieff would stand up and beat out "Land of Hope and Glory". I know that Sir Roden Cutler remembers that well.
But soon I came to understand that war was a very serious business and that my country was in mortal danger. This was sheeted home when one morning I found my mother sobbing inconsolably over the news that a young man - 23 years of age I think he was - who had been the local schoolteacher and had boarded with our family, had been blown to pieces on a battlefield in Crete. He has no known war grave, because there was nothing to bury. These were my childhood memories of war. When it finished I was 10 years old and I witnessed the great victory parade in Sydney. It was not only a celebration of victory but I remember clearly it was a celebration of relief and thanksgiving that those horrendous years were over. During one of those years, after the Japanese submarine raid on Sydney, because of fear of a Japanese invasion, I was dispatched to the country, as were thousands of other children, to live with an uncle. It was at Mendooran, near Dubbo, that I met my first prisoner of war. He was a very charming young Italian called Bruno. He certainly was not a farmer, and he was even less of a soldier. He was a sculptor. He spent his prisoner-of-war days doing sculptures which adorned the homestead garden. I became his helper. These are my memories of the war. I learned names such as New Guinea, where my brother served; and the Philippines, where he also served. I remember the joy my mother displayed when she received his letters.
Honourable members and distinguished guests, I remember with great gratitude and pride the service given to this country and to its children, such as me, at the time. I remember the sacrifice of the Australians who gave themselves to World War II so that people such as I might live in peace and security. That service is epitomised at its best by the presence today of one of Australia's most distinguished citizens, Sir Roden Cutler. I am honoured to have been commissioned in the same regiment as he, as was the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti, Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile, and Sir John Carrick and Brigadier Sir Frederick Chilton, who are in my gallery. I am greatly honoured that you have come today to join us in this celebration of remembrance.
Motion agreed to.
I ask all present to stand whilst I recite the Ode:
They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
[Members and officers stood in their places for the
Last Post and
[Mr President left the chair at 12.46 p.m. The House resumed at 2.38 p.m.