This Tuesday, it will be eighty years to the day Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that Australia was at war.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester is encouraging all Australians, from those who lived through the war to those who are only just learning about it, to remember the nearly one million Australians who served during the Second World War.
“The Second World War changed the course of our history and the lives of so many Australians forever,” Mr Chester said.
“Our nation’s population in 1939 when the war was declared was less than seven million people, and close to one million of those served in the war,” Mr Chester said.
“More than 39,000 Australians died in the conflict and around 30,000 Australians were taken prisoner. While most of those who became prisoners of the Germans and Italians ultimately returned home, more than one-third of prisoners of the Japanese died in captivity.”
Australians served in the Second World War against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, against Japan in south-east Asia and the Pacific, as well as on the home front.
“Australia’s efforts at places like Tobruk, the Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay, Borneo and Bomber Command’s offensive in the skies over Europe have become iconic parts of our military history,” Mr Chester said.
“The Second World War brought a foreign threat to Australia for the first time, with the Japanese bombing northern parts of the country and attacking Sydney Harbour with midget submarines.
“The role women played during the war was extraordinary. Nurses for example, went overseas with the Second Australian Imperial Force in 1940. At home, the Australian Women’s Land Army was established to recruit women to work on farms, and women in urban areas took up employment in industries like munitions production.
“At the end of June 2018, it was estimated there were more than 19,000 living veterans of the Second World War, most over 90 years old.
“To those veterans of the War who are still with us, and to the families who support them, thank you for your service.
“Eighty years on this grateful nation honours your service and sacrifice.”