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.
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.
“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.”
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.