Every year on the Sunday closest to Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day, a memorial service is held at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park off Kennedy Highway near Atherton, Queensland to remember those who served and died in the Second World War.
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest military hospital was once at Rocky Creek, holding an impressive 3,000 beds with 2,000 health care staff. From 1942 through to 1946 over 60 000 soldiers wounded in the Japanese advance received care at the hospital.
Eight representatives from HMAS Cairns attended this year’s ceremony, with a volunteer from the army’s 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment, ex-serving servicemen and women, and families, friends and descendants of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Lieutenant Peter Gaden, Officer-in-Charge-of the Cairns Health Centre gave the address and reflected on the history of military medicine and the changes to Australia’s amphibious capability over the years.
“As much as I am amazed at the technological advances that military medicine has made over the years, it is with great sadness and a high price that we have learnt these lessons,” Lieutenant Gaden said.
“I yearn for the day that we can put down our arms. We are in the Profession of Arms, and we are damn fine at our job. But we should only be called upon in exceptional circumstances when all else has failed.
“We must never forget the sacrifices that were made, and memorials like this one here at Rocky Creek are a great tribute on behalf of a grateful nation," he said.
A warbird flyover initiated the proceedings which included the unveiling of 21 new memorial wall plaques for individual servicemen and women. Training Ship Endeavour Navy cadets were also involved in the event.
This year marks the 69th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and the success of the Allied forces in the Pacific War.