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March 1, 2012
SIX Australian veterans of the
Malayan campaign were given
a standing ovation during a
moving memorial service at the
Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore on
The veterans, chosen to represent all
Australians who served in the Malayan
campaign and the Battle for Singapore,
stood together as a large crowd gathered
to show their appreciation for the sacri-
fices and hardships faced by those who
fought in World War II.
The service, which marked the 70th
anniversary of the fall of Singapore, was
held at dawn.
Australia's Federation Guard mount-
ed a catafalque party, presenting arms
as the Last Post sounded and a minute's
silence was observed.
The guard contingent joined the six
veterans and Veterans' Affairs Minister
Warren Snowdon to commemorate the
anniversary, participating in services in
Gemas and Parit Sulong in Malaysia,
and Changi Chapel and Kranji War
Cemetery in Singapore.
The Kranji War Cemetery is the final
resting place for Allied soldiers who
died during the Battle of Singapore and
the subsequent Japanese occupation of
the island from 1942 to 1945.
There are 4461 World War II casu-
alties buried or commemorated at the
cemetery, of which more than 850 are
Within Kranji War Cemetery stands
the Singapore Memorial, bearing the
names of more than 24,000 casualties of
the Commonwealth land and air forces
with no known grave.
Veteran and former POW George
Smith said he appreciated the contri-
bution of the Federation Guard to the
"The boys have been great -- they
made us feel young again," he said. "We
appreciate the hospitality -- they looked
after us -- and it's great to have the guard
all around you in formal ceremonies."
Pausing for battles past
IT WAS an emotional return for six
veterans of the Malayan campaign
who travelled to the Changi Chapel
to remember those who died during
their internment as POWs.
For veteran George Smith, who
spent more than three years as a
POW at the Changi camp, the cere-
mony was a reminder of the suffering
"Usually I try not to think about
it -- you get too upset otherwise," he
"But this service is great. It's very
moving to come here."
Australia's Federation Guard
mounted a catafalque party as
wreaths were laid to honour the
suffering of the POWs. More than
22,000 Australians were cap-
tured after the fall of Singapore on
February 15, 1942.
More than 100,000 allied POWs
were crammed into the Changi camp,
which was originally a British Army
barracks, after the fall of Singapore.
POWs suffered from hunger,
malaria, dysentery, ulcers and
extreme exhaustion while imprisoned
at the various camps. More than a
third of Australian POWs died.
For those who survived, many
returned home with chronic illnesses
AUSTRALIA'S Federation Guard
marked the 70th anniversary of
the Battle of Gemas at the exact
time and place the battle started in
Malaysia 70 years ago.
Eighty-one Australians from the
2/30th Battalion were killed in the
battle, the first real contact between
Australian and Japanese troops.
The guard mounted a cata-
falque party at the 2/30th Battalion
Memorial as the six visiting veterans
of the campaign watched.
On the morning of January 14,
1942, a company from the 2/30th
Battalion mounted a successful
ambush against the Japanese 5th
Division at a wooden bridge west of
Following their success and as
the ambush party withdrew, the
Australians found themselves encir-
cled by a fast-moving Japanese
force. Though the situation looked
dire, most Australians managed
to get through and continue on to
Gemas, where the battle raged on
into the night and for the next day.
On the afternoon of January 15,
the Australians retreated to avoid suf-
fering further casualties.
More than 1000 Japanese ser-
vicemen were killed during the battle.
BACK TO GEMAS
A CONTINGENT from Australia's
Federation Guard sounded the Last
Post on January 22 as a mark of
respect for the 107 Australian ser-
vicemen killed in 1943 after the battle
of the Muar River against Japanese
Veteran George Smith, who was
taken as a POW and held by the
Japanese for three years and eight
months, laid a wreath during the
"It has been humbling to come
back and pay tribute to those who
fought and died here," Mr Smith said.
Members from the 2/29th
Battalion, 2/19th Battalion and allied
Indian forces fought in the Battle of
Muar River on January 22, 1943, and
retreated when it became clear that
their position was untenable.
More than 150 wounded
Australian and Indian servicemen
were captured by the Japanese and
kicked and beaten with rifle butts and
At sunset, the prisoners were
roped together and led away. A sur-
vivor reported they were machine
gunned, doused in petrol and inciner-
ated. Of the 110 Australians taken
prisoner, only three were known to
A DARK DAY
Six veterans of the Malayan campaign joined Australia's Federation Guard
to mark the 70th anniversary of Australia's darkest World War II campaign,
LEUT Nikola Johnson reports.
THE RAN'S FIGHT
AFTER Japanese troops
started landing in northern
Malaya in December 1941,
the RAN found itself facing
a new enemy and fighting
a new war. A war that was
to last four years and see
Australian ships and person-
nel operate across the vast
expanse of the Pacific and
Before the outbreak
of hostilities six corvettes
had already been based in
HMAS Vampire formed
part of the escort of HM Ships
Prince of Wales and Repulse
on their ill-fated sortie to
attack Japanese landing forc-
es at Kuantan on Malaysia's
east coast. She rescued 225
survivors after both capital
ships had been sunk by
Japanese naval aircraft.
In Japanese waters on
February 27, 1942 a com-
bined Australian, British,
American and Dutch striking
force composed of five cruis-
ers, including HMAS Per th
and a number of destroyers,
engaged Japanese forces
covering the approach of a
In this action, the Battle of
the Java Sea, the Allies lost
two Dutch cruisers and three
destroyers with damage to a
While attempting to reach
Australia through Sunda
Straits, Per th, accompanied
by the cruiser USS Houston,
ran into a Japanese force
landing troops in Bantam Bay.
Both cruisers were sunk
with heavy loss of life. Many
of the survivors subsequently
died as prisoners of war.
HMAS Yarra was surprised
by a Japanese heavy cruiser
squadron and sunk. Vampire
was also sunk by a Japanese
carrier aircraft off Ceylon.
Source: Sea Power Centre
MATES: Veterans (front
row from left) Gordon
Butler, Roy Cornford,
(back row from left)
Derek Holoake, George
Smith and William Ennis
rest in the shade after
an emotional service
at Changi Chapel to
remember those who
died as POWs of the
Japanese during WWII.
Photos: CPL Melina Mancuso
HONOURING THE BRAVE: Members of Australia's Federation Guard stand proudly at ease while providing
ceremonial support to the Singaporean service held at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.
GENERAL SALUTE: SMNBM Michael
Matsioukkou presents arms as part of the
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