PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24701

Address to the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Commemorative Service, Adelaide

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/08/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 24701

Location: Adelaide

On this day 70 years ago, our nation and much of the world celebrated the greatest victory ever known.

We celebrated with unrestrained joy.

On VP Day, as soon as victory was announced, Australians quite literally dropped everything and spontaneously flocked into the streets.

Church Bells peeled, flags waved, bonfires blazed and a party began.

As Prime Minister Ben Chifley declared, "The war is over, let us offer thanks to God and remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may look forward to a peace which they have won for us.”

So today, in awe and in gratitude, we honour a generation of Australians who helped turn the tide of history.

You fought in the air and on the sea, in the jungle and in the desert. You fought to defend our country against fascism, Nazism and militarism.

You fought against evils that sought to destroy human decency and you fought to build a lasting peace.

In the words of King George VI, "You fought in Brotherhood". And to our eternal gratitude, you fought and you won.

Almost a million Australians – men and women – served in World War II.

Over 30,000 became prisoners of war and over 8,000 died in captivity.

Almost 40,000 died in total.

Among them, Captain Lionel Matthews. He was from Stepney, here in Adelaide, and his mates nicknamed him the Duke because his moustache made him look like the Duke of Gloucester.

Captain Matthews fought in Malaya and was awarded the Military Cross before being captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore.

As a prisoner of war at Sandakan, he set up an underground intelligence organisation and arranged for the delivery of badly needed supplies.

Betrayed and tortured, he refused to reveal the names of his collaborators.

He was executed on the 2nd of March 1944, faithful unto death and was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

That's the spirit in which all of you served.

That's the spirit that we honour and commemorate today.

So to all who have served in Australia's name, I say on behalf of the rest of us, we owe you a debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid.

At great cost you won the war.

With great resolve you built the peace and we live today in a region which is safe and secure because that's how the World War II generation rebuilt it.

On this 70th anniversary of the war's end, we acknowledge all those who died in the service of our country, all who made unknown and untold sacrifices and we remember the enduring grief of those left behind.

We thank you for the free and democratic Australia that is your true legacy and we resolve always to strive to be worthy of your sacrifice.

Lest we forget.

[ends]

Transcript - 24701