Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said on today’s 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, Australians would pause and reflect on the lives lost and more than 15,000 Australian soldiers who were taken prisoner.
A public National Service will be held today at the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat, Victoria and will be attended by the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) and Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove, His Excellency Mr Fook Seng Kwok, High Commissioner for Singapore, and Mrs Pearl Kwok, Mr Tehan, Shadow Veterans’ Affairs Minister Amanda Rishworth as well as veterans of World War II and former prisoners of war.
A service to unveil the Garden of the Grieving Mother, a new memorial dedicated to the families of servicemen and women who have lost their lives in war will take place at the Arch of Victory in Sturt Street, Ballarat hosted by the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee.
The Malayan Campaign, which ended with the Fall of Singapore, lasted from 8 December 1941 to 15 February 1942. On 15 February 1942, Allied forces on Singapore laid down their arms. Some 1,800 Australians lost their lives or were listed as missing in action in the fighting for Malaya and Singapore, more than 1,300 were wounded and more than 15,000 became prisoners of war.
Those who surrendered on Singapore were held captive, firstly at Changi and, as the war continued, in locations across South East and East Asia, including Japan.
Mr Tehan said he was very pleased that a group of Australian veterans of the Fall of Singapore had been able to travel to Ballarat to join the National commemorations, organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in association with the Trustees of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial.
"Today we remember and commemorate the courage and sacrifice of Australians during the Second World War, and we take this opportunity, on the 75thanniversary of the Fall of Singapore, to reflect on that time in our history and to thank our veterans for their service," Mr Tehan said.
"It is vital we continue to honour the memory of those who served and to use these occasions to reflect on our experience of war, the values our service men and women fight to protect and the cost we pay for doing so.
"The Garden of the Grieving Mother will be an important memorial because it recognises and honours that loss felt by the family and friends when they lose a loved one in defence of our nation."