Australians honoured at Philippine WWII memorial site
A memorial has been dedicated at Palo, Leyte to honour the 92 Australians who gave their lives during the liberation of the Philippines in the Second World War. The monument stands close to the site where General Douglas MacArthur first stepped ashore after leading the advance from Australia, and will be unveiled tomorrow on the eve of commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Leyte Landings.
“Australians fought and died in the Philippines from the time of the US surrender in 1942 until the country’s final liberation in 1945,” said Colonel Bruce Murray, Australia’s Defence Attaché to the Philippines.
“The Royal Australian Navy’s participation in what is arguably history’s largest naval battle at Leyte Gulf, and its role in providing crucial support to nine amphibious landings during the campaign made a valuable contribution to the overall success.”
The Navy also played an important role in what is known as the world’s last big-gun naval battle at Surigao Strait, and in the Battle of Lingayen Gulf. Australian Army bombardment liaison teams helped to ensure the accuracy of naval fire in support of the landings and the Royal Australian Air Force contribution included aerial photo reconnaissance and aerial mine-laying.
Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddell, also recognised the efforts of Australians throughout the war.
“Australia’s contribution began when escaped prisoners of war joined Philippine guerrilla units, and continued with the assignment of airfield construction engineers to United States forces in the later stages of the war,” he said.
“Our close cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines was forged in the heat of battle, and it continues in times of peace. I was immensely proud of the life-saving work of the Australian military in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year, as I am honoured to be here today to recognise the efforts of our service personnel who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the Philippines.”
With the Australian Armidale Class Patrol Boat, HMAS LARRAKIA at anchor in the Leyte Gulf, today’s dedication ceremony at the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park will include a wreath laying ceremony and a Cenotaph Guard from HMAS LARRAKIA. Invited guests include the Philippine Secretary of National Defence, Voltaire Gazmin, the British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lieutenant General Gregorio P. Catapang.
“Australia’s involvement in the Philippine campaigns may not be as well-known as some of its other World War Two campaigns,” said Colonel Murray. “But it is time to appropriately recognise the service of those who sacrificed their lives here, and the role they played in helping to win the war in the Pacific theatre.” ENDS