Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP151020a - Solidarity Greeting at the 71st Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary

Solidarity Greeting by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
71st Leyte Gulf Landings Anniversary
Palo, Leyte
20 October 2015

• Honourable Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Governor, Province of Leyte,
• Honourable Carlo Loreto, Vice Governor, Province of Leyte
• Honourable Remedios Petilla, Mayor of the Municipality of Palo,
• Lieutenant General Ernesto Carolina, AFP (ret), Administrator, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office
• Brigadier General William Esplana, AFP (ret), President for Operations, Veterans Federation of the Philippines
• Fellow members of the Diplomatic and Attaché Corps,
• Senior AFP: MGEN Jet Velarmino AFP, Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army
• Officers and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
• Above all, our Veterans, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen



It is my honour and privilege once again to be here this morning to represent the people of Australia and, in particular, the veterans of the Australian Defence Force.

We gather on this solemn occasion to offer our deep respect, and to 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 71 years ago.

On days like today, we celebrate the bravery and heroism of the Filipino and Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought and died at Bataan and Corregidor; Leyte, Manila, and other locations across the Philippines.

Until last year, very few knew of the 4,000 Australian service personnel who were among the liberation forces, or of the 92 Australians who died during the Philippine campaign. I can proudly say that Australia’s contribution is now recognised by the impressive memorial, situated directly behind me, that was officially dedicated during the 70th Anniversary of the Landing last year.

We were particularly honoured when, the day after its dedication, His Excellency the President visited the memorial and spoke with Australian service personnel present.
And, earlier this year, I participated in the dedication ceremony to commemorate the sacrifice of the nine crew of a Royal Australian Air Force Catalina Flying Boat that disappeared 70 years ago in the vicinity of the Bataan Peninsula, somewhere near Corregidor.

A memorial marker now stands in the magnificent grounds of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific. The daughter of one of the crew members attended the service with her sons and she now, at last, has some closure regarding the death of her brave father.

The Bataan Provincial Government recently declared 23 April as a day to commemorate and recognise the gallantry and heroism of Filipino and Australian service personnel.

I am grateful to His Excellency President Aquino, the Office of Veterans Affairs and our friends in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for ensuring that Australia’s small yet significant part in the Allied victory, here and throughout the Pacific, continues to be so respectfully and graciously acknowledged.

Today we honour all those veterans who fought in the Leyte campaign. Some of those veterans are here with us today, along with the friends and relatives of the brave Filipino people who fought beside and supported the Allied forces during the campaign.

We Australians are humbly grateful for your service.

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.

To the local government of Leyte and the Mayors and people of Tacloban and Palo, thank you for your generous hospitality, and for the annual remembrance you give through this fine service, to your nation’s heroes and veterans, and to those who fought alongside you to liberate the Philippines.