Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Defence

The Liberation of the Philippines, 1944-45

Australian participation in the campaign for the liberation of the Philippines involved over 4,000 personnel from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Australians fought and died in Allied sea, air and land operations in Leyte, Surigao Strait, and Lingayen and in other campaigns around the Philippines.

The Navy was present at the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Surigao Strait, Samar and Cape Engano), 20 to 25 October 1944. Australian Army personnel served in No.1 Wireless Unit, and some others – escaped prisoners from Sandakan in North Borneo –joined the military forces in the Philippines. The RAAF contribution came primarily from operational forces which were not physically based in the Philippines (such as Beaufighter aircraft based at Morotai) but were active in front-line operations in the Southern Philippines. Other local support came primarily from Airfield Construction Squadrons and Wireless Units.

RAN records indicate that 59 Australians were buried “at sea in position” and 17 were recorded as “missing presumed killed”. Two Army personnel (escaped prisoners from Sandakan) died in the Philippines serving with the 1st Battalion, 125th US Infantry Regiment. RAAF records indicate that 12 members were killed or missing in “the Philippines area”, but none are buried in the Philippines. In addition, there were 1,035 Australian nationals (including 845 Army prisoners of war, mostly from Rabaul) who died when the Japanese cargo vessel Montivideo Maru (one of the Japanese “hell ships”) was sunk about 65 miles west of the northern tip of Luzon.

In April 2015, on the occasion of the Centenary of ANZAC, a memorial was dedicated to the crew of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Catalina A24-64. The Dabster (meaning ‘the best’) is believed to have been lost over Bataan.  Read more here.

Australian Defence Participation in the Philippines

The Defence Section of the Australian Embassy acts as a conduit between the Defence organisations of Australia and the Republic of the Philippines to enhance the military relationship between the two countries. The 2013 Defence White Paper recognises the Philippines remains an important long-standing defence partner for Australia. Our relations are based on common regional security concerns and shared interests as long standing United States treaty partners. Our defence engagement will continue to focus on three main streams: maritime security, counter terrorism and assistance to the Philippine Defense Modernisation Program.

The Defence Section also facilitates visits to Australia by officials of the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard and other related agencies, including students attending courses conducted in Australia. In 2012, there were 85 Philippine military and security personnel who attended training, seminars or official visits to Australia. Almost three times that number received training in the Philippines by Australian Defence Force Mobile Training Teams.

The Defence Section arranges and hosts visits to the Philippines by members of the Australian Department of Defence and related agencies, as well as attending to visiting Australian ships, aircraft and personnel in all areas of the Philippines, Australian Defence Industry representatives and other interested parties, to enable them to meet their counterparts and customers within the country. The Defence Section generally acts as an experienced group of in-country facilitators in any Defence-related activity involving both Australia and the Philippines. In 2012, there were 380 official Australian Defence visitors to the Philippines. The highlight was the visit of HMAS SYDNEY.

Defence Cooperation Program

The bilateral defence relationship is largely supported through reciprocal training under the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP). This program sees both Australian and Philippine Service personnel and civilians undergoing training in both countries and has been formalised with the ratification of the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA). Training includes long-term professional development courses for personnel at Defence institutions in Australia and the Philippines, Mobile Training Team visits to various Philippine bases, and the attendance by Philippine Service personnel and civilians at individual training courses in Australia. To strengthen and maintain the bilateral relationship, Defence Cooperation dialogue is held annually to review and adjust the reciprocal training continuum. The Australian Defence Force also sponsors a number of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Coast Guard personnel to undertake masters level degree studies in Australia.

Philippine Australian Defence Scholars Association

The Philippine Australian Defence Scholars Association Incorporated (PADSA) has existed in Manila since 2001. Membership of PADSA is open to graduates of Australian Defence courses and Defence-sponsored training, and is aimed at promoting fellowship amongst Australian military training graduates and Australian graduates of Philippine training.

PADSA is an avenue whereby personnel who have undergone Australian Defence courses or Defence-sponsored training are able to interact and foster friendship and camaraderie between and among members. PADSA membership is open to current and retired members of the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine Coast Guard who have benefited from the Australian Defence Cooperation Program.

Inquiries about PADSA can be directed to manila.defence@dfat.gov.au.

For more information on the Australian Defence Force (ADF), go to: www.defence.gov.au