Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan MP has encouraged Australians to pause and reflect on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay.
The Battle of Milne Bay, from 25th August to 7th September 1942, saw a Japanese amphibious landing defeated for the first time in the Second World War, and marked a turning point during the Papuan campaign.
Of some 7,000 Australians who served in Milne Bay, more than 370 became casualties, of whom more than 160 were killed or listed as missing.
Veterans of the Battle of Milne Bay will today attend a private service in Canberra, followed by a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Darling Downs remembrance ceremony took place at the Mothers’ Memorial in Toowoomba on Sunday, 2oth August.
“The Government is honoured to support the travel of seven Australian veterans of the Battle of Milne Bay to attend commemorations in Canberra,” Mr Tehan said “All Australians owe a great debt to the veterans of Milne Bay and to every man and woman who serves or has served in defence of our nation.
“Today we honour the courage and sacrifice of Australians during the Second World War, and we take this opportunity to reflect on that time in our history and to thank our veterans for their service.”
Milne Bay, on the south-eastern tip of Papua, was a strategically significant Allied base with three airstrips in close proximity to Port Moresby. Allied air and ground forces, including Australian infantrymen (some from the Darling Downs) and RAAF Kittyhawk fighters, repelled some 2000 Japanese troops, helping to halt the Japanese attempt on Port Moresby.
“Australian troops had, at Milne Bay, inflicted on the Japanese their first undoubted defeat on land. Some of us may forget that, of all the allies, it was the Australians who first broke the invincibility of the Japanese army”.
Field-marshal Sir William Slim, Defeat Into Victory