69th Anniversary Of 25th Battalion’s Departure From Spring Bluff

Front: Battle of Milne Bay veterans Kev Olsen, Stan Alford & Bert Miles with Toowoomba Grammar Precision Team and (centre back) Major Robert Jenkins & Lt Col Brenda Sharp

Each year on the 17th of March, the anniversary of the soldiers’ departure from Spring Bluff in 1942,  members of the 25th Battalion gather at Spring Bluff Railway Station for a flag raising ceremony to remember the World War II service of the 25th Battalion.

However, due to the effects of flooding during the January disaster, the Spring Bluff Railway Station remains closed to the public, so this year the Milne Bay Military Museum offered their car park as a venue for the commemoration.

Bert Miles (centre) gives a first hand account of the Battle of Milne Bay
Bugler Eddie Kemp plays Reveille as Bert Miles raises the Australian flag

On St. Patrick’s Day 1942, the 1,000 strong Darling Downs 25th Infantry Battalion left Cabarlah Barracks at 2.00am and marched in darkness down the steep range to the siding at Spring Bluff.   There the soldiers boarded trains bound for the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds, Townsville and eventually Milne Bay at the eastern tip of New Guinea.

Following enemy landings, the 25th Battalion played a major role in the ensuing action (The Battle of Milne Bay), inflicting the first defeat on the until then invincible Japanese. They later took part in mop-up operations on Bougainville. Some  200 of their colleagues did not return home.

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