Teamwork and mateship remembered at Battle for Australia commemoration

Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author), LSIS Dove Smithett (photographer)

Location(s): Melbourne, VIC

Dignitaries lay wreaths during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria. (photo: LSIS Dove Smithett)
Dignitaries lay wreaths during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

More than 2,000 Victorians, comprising school students, past and present servicemen and women and members of the public, gathered at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on September 3, to commemorate the Battle for Australia.
 
The Battle for Australia is the collective term given to some significant actions and campaigns of World War II, including the bombing of Darwin, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Kokoda Trail, Milne Bay, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea and the Batlle of the Beachheads-Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

The Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

The Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.


HMAS Cerberus supported the Battle for Australia commemoration ceremony, providing a Sub Lieutenant's Guard and Executive Officer, Commander Mike Oborn, who gave a heartfelt recitation of the Ode.

Six secondary school students made short presentations from prepared scripts on the mateship and teamwork shared by Australian servicemen during the hardships of battle. Lilydale High School Captain, Mitch Groenwald, spoke of the mateship that soldiers in the 39th Battalion formed while enduring the harsh conditions of the Kokoda Track.

“Few of us had heard of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea. ‘Mateship’ and ‘looking out for each other’ would soon prove to be critical,” Mitch Groenwald read aloud.
 

Lilydale High School Captain, Mitch Groenewald speaks during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

Lilydale High School Captain, Mitch Groenewald speaks during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

Maggie Brittingham of Pascoe Vale Girls College speaks during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

Maggie Brittingham of Pascoe Vale Girls College speaks during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.


 
“It seemed that all we had left was ‘mateship’ and ‘courage’ to maintain battle momentum. 1, 116 men had served. Today there were only about 30 of my 39th Battalion mates remaining,” he recited.
 
Year 10 student from Pascoe Vale Girls College, Maggie Brittingham, read a passage by a Midshipman who served on a Battle Class Destroyer.
 
“[We] played an important part in the naval campaign for New Guinea. Just as important, we depended on ‘mateship’ during these dangerous joint operations,” Maggie Brittingham read.
 
“Had the Allies been unable to secure the sea lines of supply, the final outcome in the jungles of New Guinea may have been very different.”

Executive Officer HMAS Cerberus, Commander Michael Oborn salutes as the Last Post is played during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.

Executive Officer HMAS Cerberus, Commander Michael Oborn salutes as the Last Post is played during the Battle for Australia Ceremony held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria.


While the ceremony reflected on the battles that arose throughout the Battle for Australia, their hard fought triumphs and tragedies, the fundamental message was of remembering the adversity that Australian servicemen faced while they proudly served, and the strong spirit that held them together. The theme of teamwork and mateship was enduring and epitomised the cornerstone of serving Australia for all servicemen and women.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142662.