ANZAC Day Dawn Service
Bomana War Cemetery
Papua New Guinea
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Governor General Sir Michael Ogio, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, veterans who have travelled from Australia to be with us today, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great privilege for me to again be at Bomana Cemetery on ANZAC Day, in the year we mark the 70th Anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign.
We gather at this hour on this day to remember the ANZACs who leapt ashore at Gallipoli and who landed on history’s page on 25 April 1915.
Today we remember the sacrifice of those ANZACs as we do the sacrifices on the battlefields of Papua and New Guinea in World War Two.
We remember the remarkable adversity faced during the Kokoda Campaign 70 years ago.
We remember those who are laid to rest before us.
We remember the sacrifices of all Australian men and women who have served and the more than 102,000 Australian service men and women who have died in wars and conflicts, on peacekeeping duties, in disaster relief and on humanitarian assistance missions.
We honour all Australians who have served in uniform across a century of service.
We recognise the contribution of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who serve today, in Afghanistan, in the Solomon Islands, in East Timor, and in peacekeeping and security operations around the world.
Their distinguished service will make them a standard bearer for those who follow.
We remember today that 32 young Australians have fallen in Afghanistan. We honour their memory and share a tragic sense of loss. Our thoughts are with their loved ones.
Like the ANZACs and like the men who served in Papua and New Guinea during World War Two, these 32 took on tough, dangerous and vital work, away from home.
They and their comrades have made a real difference on the ground. Among the Afghans, among other nations, and at home, they are highly respected for their professionalism and bravery.
As I said here on Anzac Day 2008, it is a sad fact that no other war cemetery in the world contains more Australian war dead than this one.
We are reminded this year by the presence of the family of Private Frank Richard Archibald, of the commitment and sacrifice of many Indigenous Australians. As many as 3,500 Indigenous Australians served during the First and Second World Wars.
After this service, for the first time overseas, there will be a traditional cultural ceremony at Private Archibald’s grave conducted by his family.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the critical World War Two campaigns in the Pacific: the Kokoda Campaign and the Battles of the Beachheads of Buna, Gona and Sanananda and across the Owen Stanley Ranges to Owers’ Corner, the Battle of Milne Bay, and the battle of Guadalcanal and Savo Island.
We remember too those who fought and died in the skies above Papua and New Guinea and on the Coral Sea.
Many thousands of lives were lost in the campaigns of 1942 and 1943. Many of them are buried here at Bomana. They include 3,351 Australians.
Japanese forces landed on Papua’s coast on 21 July 1942. Their strategy was an overland assault on Port Moresby using the Kokoda Track.
Capturing Port Moresby would have put the Japanese in a strong position to launch attacks against the Australian mainland.
Japanese forces came within 48 kilometres of Port Moresby, before the Allied offensive drove them back along the Kokoda Track. They came so close they could see the searchlights in the harbour.
The fighting, which centred around the narrow, nearly 100km?long Kokoda Track, was on terrain recognised as amongst the most rugged on earth, the gorges and streams and ridges of the Owen Stanley Range.
Some 2000 Australian lives were lost in the Kokoda campaign alone.
There were other losses during these campaigns: more than 650 American soldiers, some 500 Papuan and New Guinean villagers, carriers and soldiers, and some 12,000 Japanese soldiers.
It was on the battlefields of Papua New Guinea that young Australians for the first time fought against the prospect of an invasion of Australia.
The losses would have been far higher but for the help of the local villagers, who came to be known affectionately by Australian soldiers and now by all Australians for all time as the “fuzzy wuzzy angels.”
Australians will forever be grateful for the assistance of these generous and brave people living on and near the Kokoda track, as they selflessly carried the injured along the steep and slippery path to medical help.
We will never forget their selfless courage.
Today we honour their sacrifice as well.
The Australians who lie here exemplify the bond between our peoples and our nations.
The Australians, young and old, who come here today to respect and mark that sacrifice, help strengthen that bond.
At the Kokoda Memorial at Isurava, there are four black granite pillars. Each is inscribed with a single word – “courage,” “endurance,” “mateship,” and “sacrifice” - representing the values and qualities of those Australian soldiers who fought along the Kokoda Track.
In equal measure, these are the qualities shared by Australians whenever and wherever they have served.
A nation egalitarian in spirit and independent by nature.
A belief in a “fair go” for all and in not leaving the weak or vulnerable behind.
Optimism about what can be achieved by ingenuity and hard work.
And the courage to work together to achieve in the face of adversity.
Every year, as Australians throughout the world gather to commemorate Anzac Day and remember lives lost, we now also celebrate our national characteristics, our values and our virtues: the great Australian notion of a fair go, of looking out for one's mates, of a sense of humour in adversity and the sure and certain knowledge that however bad our circumstances might be, there is always someone else worse off who needs a helping hand.
The traditions forged at Gallipoli and forged at Kokoda, have become an indelible part of our history and continue to inspire us today as we join in enduring respect and gratitude for the fallen.
The sacrifice that we honour today helped forge our national identity, helped forge our natural characteristics and helped set our national values and virtues.
Lest We Forget.