Message by Colonel Bruce Murray, AM
70th Anniversary of the Lingayen Gulf Landings
9 January 2015
His Excellency the Governor of the Province of Pangasinan, Amado T. Espino;
The Honourable Vice -Governor of the Province of Pangasinan, Jose Fernando Calimlin Junior;
Secretary, for the Department of National Defence, General Voltaire Gazmin;
Administrator for Philippine Veterans Affairs Office,General Ernesto Carolina;
Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Pacific, General James Pasquarette;
Veterans, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls.
It is my honour to be here this morning on behalf of the Australian Ambassador, his Excellency Bill Tweddell who unfortunately cannot be with us due to a recent death in his family.
He has asked me to convey the following message on behalf of all Australians, to offer our deep respect and acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who fought so bravely in these seas, in the skies above, and on this land, to contribute to the immense task of liberating the islands of the Philippines 70 years ago.
Last October, on the eve of the Leyte Landings, I had the great privilege to attend a dedication ceremony for a memorial constructed at MacArthur Landing, Palo Leyte, to recognise the contribution made by Australian Service Personnel in the Liberation of the Philippines.
Over 4,000 Australian servicemen fought, 92 were killed and many hundreds more wounded. Their contribution was a small, yet significant part in the Allied victory, here and throughout the Pacific.
Here in Lingayen Gulf on the morning of the 9th of January 1945 at 0730 hours, HMAS AUSTRALIA, SHROPSHIRE, ARUNTA and WARRAMUNGA joined with the American bombardment team to commence firing on designated targets ahead of the landings.
At 0930 hours an armada of Landing Ships including HMAS MANOORA, KANIMBLA and WESTRALIA landed about 68,000 men ashore under the command of United States General Walter Krueger of the U.S. 6th Army. A total of 203,608 soldiers were eventually landed over the next few days.
Due to the massive naval bombardment the landing was un-opposed, however the casualties from Kamikaze attacks during the days prior to the landing were devastating.
Heavy Cruisers HMAS AUSTRALIA and ARUNTA, lost 46 personnel.
Royal Australian Navy ships would go on to support the massive naval and aerial bombardment of Corregidor and cleaning up operations in Palawan, Zamboanga, Negros, Cebu, Malabang, Parang and Cotabato.
Let us never forget the bonds formed here seventy years ago, and the tremendous acts of individual and collective heroism and sacrifice that epitomised the liberation of the Philippines.
We must also never forget the brave Filipino people who fought beside and supported the Allied forces during the Lingayen Landings.
On occasions such as this, we are reminded of the courage, resilience and sacrifice of our fellow countrymen and women in the face of severe adversity. Their selflessness and valour serve as a timeless example to us all of just how much can be achieved through solid alliances and shared values.
These common values were put to the test when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall fourteen months ago, destroying the lives of so many Filipinos. I am proud to say that Australia as part of the multi-national effort responded with emergency assistance, including medical support and Defence personnel on the ground. They, like their forefathers, were justifiably proud to work alongside their Filipino brothers.
And last December as Typhoon Ruby approached the Philippines, Australia once again stood by ready to provide defence and aid support if called upon.
2015 is a very important year for all Australians as we commemorate the centenary of ANZAC forces landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 during World War I. A failed campaign, that would however contribute forging elements our national identity of Courage, Determination and Mateship.
To the local government and the people of Pangasinan, I thank you for your generous hospitality, and for the continued remembrance you give annually, through this fine service to your nation’s heroes and Veterans, and to those who fought alongside you to liberate the Philippines.
Mabuhay ang Veterans!
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Maraming Salamat Po!