The 2017 Kokoda Day commemoration at the Walkway was a well attended special occasion. Two anniversaries were marked; the 75th Kokoda Day, and the passing of 20 years since the inauguration of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway.
The day began with the arrival of World War II veterans in a convoy of period jeeps. Looking remarkably sprightly for their 90 plus years, these representatives of a great generation, actively took part in the day’s proceedings with a sense of duty and quiet dignity, typical of those who have seen much and experienced long lives.
The Kokoda Day Address was fittingly delivered by the commanding officer of the 39th Operational Support Battalion, Lt. Col. Kimberiea Juchniewicz. It was this unit’s forebear, the 39th Militia Battalion , that played a pivotal and courageous role in the hard-fought New Guinea Campaign of 1942. The Lieutenant Colonel’s address gave a graphic account of the military actions leading up to the re-entry of Australian troops into Kokoda Village, and the raising of the Australian flag on the following day. The accompanying 22 minute video of the day, provides excerpts from the Address.
Also included is a complete Address audio recording:
Kokoda 2017 Address
KOKODA DAY COMMEMORATION VIDEO
The “Koasties” choir from Papua New Guinea, and a number of costumed dancers, greatly enriched the commemoration, and were a fitting reminder of the strong links formed during the Second World War, when citizens of PNG gave their all as stretcher bearers to assist the transport of wounded Australian soldiers across difficult mountain terrain to proper medical care.
To further mark the 75th Kokoda Day, the Walkway Board commissioned a professionally made video, entitled “In their Honour”, which features a number of veterans recounting their experiences of the war in Papua New Guinea:
Two cakes were cut at the conclusion of the service; one for the 75th anniversary Kokoda Day, and a second to mark 20 years of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway.… Read the rest
A commemoration to mark the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the Pacific and the end of World War II was held at the Walkway on Tuesday, August 15th. Among those attending were a number of Australian Army veterans, all in their nineties. Six years of war had seen the world on the brink of a new dark age, but with a hard-fought Allied victory, an enlightened era of peace and stability was heralded.
The Prologue was delivered by Cr. Michael Megna (representing the Mayor) from the City of Canada Bay Council. Cr. Megna spoke of the men and women who participated in the fighting, as well as those who gave support in the form of vital medical services. He also paid tribute to the journalists and photographers who risked their lives to record the exploits of our front line forces, so that future generations might appreciate their sacrifices.
The Chairman of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, Mr John Haines, welcomed members of the official party and all those attending the commemoration. A bible reading was then delivered by Dr. Stevie Chan, A/General Manager of Concord Hospital. Fittingly, the chosen verse, Micah 4:1-4, expressed the desire to end the very concept of war:
…and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
The 2017 VP Day address was delivered by a great supporter of the Walkway, Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO. Dame Marie spoke with great feeling as she related her own family’s story, with four of her cousins and two uncles serving in the defence forces. When the long war ended, she told of how there was bounteous joy in Sydney and out in the suburbs, and that people flocked to Martin Place to imbibe the communal relief and sense of occasion.… Read the rest
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.… Read the rest