Welcome to Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway
The Walkway covers more than 800 metres from Rhodes Station to Concord Hospital in Sydney's inner-west, and runs along the mangrove-studded shores of Brays Bay on the Parramatta River.
At the centrepiece are magnificent granite walls bearing photographic images of the Kokoda campaign. There are 22 audio-visual stations along the Walkway, each describing a significant place or military engagement. The Walkway has been planted with lush tropical vegetation simulating the conditions of The Kokoda Track.
VP Day 2106
|Perfect weather accompanied this year's VP Day commemoration, with the Walkway looking its very best bathed in warm winter sunshine. This year's Guest of Honour was His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC, Governor of NSW, accompanied by Mrs Linda Hurley. Our well-loved Ex-Governor, Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO was a special guest, and delivered the Bible reading from St. Matthew's gospel.|
The Hon. David Elliott MP (Minister for Veteran Affairs, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Emergency Services) delivered the Prologue. After speaking of the great sacrifices made during the Second World War, the Minister made mention of a number of other important current military anniversaries, including the devastating battles of Fromelles and Pozières, fought 100 years ago on the battlefields of Northern France. At Fromelles the 5th Division AIF suffered 5,533 casualties in less than 24 hours; while at Pozières a mere two kilometres was gained at a cost of 23,000 causalities. The Minister then made mention of the courageous Battle of Long Tan which took place in in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, fifty years ago on August 18th 1966.
Ms Carole Anne Priest, Deputy Chair. of the Walkway, welcomed all those attending this year's commemoration. Ms Priest reminded everyone of the immense effort that was required of a truly great generation which experienced the most devastating conflict in human history.
The 71st Commemorative VP Day address was delivered by Lieutenant General Kenneth Gillespie AC, DSC, CSM (former Chief of Army). The General gave a detailed description of the threat and attacks launched against Australia in the dark days of 1942. He paid tribute to the professionalism and courage of both the 2nd AIF and Militia troops, the latter open to undue suspicion and criticism until their worth and tenacity was demonstrated in the fierce battles which took place in New Guinea. The General drew attention to the fight for Milne Bay where the Australians were the first to prove that the Imperial Japanese Army could be defeated in a land battle.
Following the General's address, the commemorative service followed the traditional form, with prayers and hymns led by the Rev. Paul Weaver (Anglican Chaplain CRGH) and Fr. Grame Malone SSS (Roman Catholic Chaplain CRGH).
[For a complete audio file of the General's address, please click below.]
A 10 minute video presentation, entitled "The end of the War and Adapting to Peace" was shown on a large screen. This compilation of moving and still images underlined the great physical movements of both military and civilian populations, and their having to adapt to radically changed circumstances at the sudden and unexpected conclusion to the Second World War.
A highlight of this year's commemoration was a presentation by the Governor of NSW of Certificates of Appreciation to our highly-valued veterans. They generously donate their time throughout the year to provide commentaries to young Walkway visitors on their unique first hand experiences of the Second World War.
Brigadier Phil McNamara CSC ESM OAM (Walkway Director), recited the Ode to the Fallen, and at the conclusion of the formal proceedings, Mr John Haines AM thanked all those responsible for the success of the day. A special mention is warranted for the Corrective Services NSW Band for their splendid performance throughout the Commemoration.
John K Wright
The Centenary of ANZAC and the GREAT WAR
July to November 1916
To take pressure off the hard-pressed French at Verdun, British and French forces launched a massive offensive on July 1st 1916 against German lines in the Valley of the Somme, located in the Picardy Department in France.
On the first day, the British Army alone suffered 57,470 casualties. By the end of the Somme campaign in November 1916, British and Empire losses amounted to 420,000, while French losses added another 200,000 to the joint allied toll. The German army is believed to have suffered around 500,000 casualties.
As a diversionary operation, British and Australian forces launched an attack on the German lines some 80km to the north of the Somme in the neighbouring Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Around 6pm on Wednesday 19 July 1916, on a clear summer's day, the 5th Australian Division attacked the heavily entrenched German front line near the small village of Fromelles. The ill-fated attack became the worst 24 hours in Australian military history. The Australians suffered 5,533 casualties in one night. The Australian toll at Fromelles was equivalent to the total Australian casualties in the Boer War, Korean War and Vietnam War put together.
In mid July 1916, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions were thrown into battle at Pozières, a small village in the Somme valley. When the Somme Campaign was abandoned in November 1916, 23,000 Australians of 1 Anzac Corps had been killed or wounded for a two mile gain in territory. One small military objective, the heavily fortified Mouquet farm was, during seven separate attacks by the AIF, both occupied and lost at various times. In all, it eventually took seven Australian, British and Canadian divisions to capture the small farm at a cost of 18,200 casualties, attended by a one mile advance into German held territory -such were the horrific tallies of battles fought 100 years ago during the Great War.
Some Interesting Facts:
- Mouquet Farm is still operated by the same French family as it was prior to the battle 100 years ago.
- The name "Somme" comes from an old Celtic word meaning, of all things, “tranquility”.
- There is a Queensland town called Pozieres, plus a number of streets and parks throughout Australia.
- Four thousand Australian soldiers were posted missing at Pozières; few of their bodies have ever been recovered, largely due to the obliterating effects of heavy shell fire.
- In 2002 the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers were discovered in mass graves at Fromelles, with 203 of the dead being identified as Australians.
- Official War Correspondent, Charles Bean, who covered the Pozières offensive, died at the Concord Repatriation Hospital on August 30, 1968.
- In 2004, the last Australian Pozières veteran, Marcel Caux, passed away aged 105.
- The most recent known casualty of the First World War is 33 year old Maité Roël of Belgium, whose leg was blown off by a First War bomb at Wetteren. In 1992, as a child, she was playing with what she thought was a log. She even holds a First World War veteran's card – "mutilée dans la guerre". To this day, fragments of munitions and bone are still found in the fields of France and Belgium.