Coral Sea remembered in Western Australia

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), Mrs Peta Magorian (photographer)

Location(s): Perth, Western Australia

Dignitaries and Wreath layers march on - lead by WA Police Piper Chris Macaulay then Reverend Richard Pengelley, Governor of WA Kerry Sanderson AO and Warden of the State War Memorial Mr Peter King, followed by the wreath layers from each organisation. (photo: Mrs Peta Magorian)
Dignitaries and Wreath layers march on - lead by WA Police Piper Chris Macaulay then Reverend Richard Pengelley, Governor of WA Kerry Sanderson AO and Warden of the State War Memorial Mr Peter King, followed by the wreath layers from each organisation.

The 74th commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea was recently held at the Western Australian State War Memorial at Kings Park, Perth.

The battle was a major naval engagement fought over four days in 1942 between units of the Royal Australian Navy, the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

It was the first time in history that participating ships never actually sighted each other, instead relying on aircraft to carry out the action. 

Speaking at the commemoration, Governor of Western Australia Kerry Sanderson, AO, said the battle marked the turning point in the war in the Pacific.

“Importantly, Japanese losses sustained during the battle meant that the two aircraft carriers involved at Coral Sea could not participate in the Battle of Midway one month later,” she said.

“In that battle, Japan lost all four of its participating aircraft carriers – if the two carriers from the Battle of the Coral Sea had been able to fight at Midway in June 1942 then the outcome of the war in the Pacific may have been very different.”

Australia’s contingent in the battle consisted of heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, light cruiser HMAS Hobart and various aircraft stationed in Queensland.

The Australian Squadron was commanded by Admiral Sir John Crace, an Australian born member of the Royal Navy.

While both sides claimed the Battle of the Coral Sea as a victory, with Japan sinking more American ships than the number of vessels it lost, the Allies achieved their primary intention of preventing the Japanese from taking Port Moresby.

Commanding Officer HMAS Stirling Captain Brian Delamont read The Ode at the commemoration on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy.