With COVID-19 restrictions lifting and only 66 days until the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific, it’s time to start planning your calendar and this is one event you don’t want to miss! The Cairns RSL Sub Branch will be hosting a 75th Anniversary gala dinner on Saturday 15 August 2020 starting at 6:00pm. Register your interest now at our save the date event page on Facebook.
As we mark the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific, we recognise a time when our shores came under attack. The Second World War changed the course of our history and the lives of so many Australians forever.
Our nation’s population in 1939 when war was declared was less than 7 million people, and close to one million of those served in the war. More than 40,000 Australians died in the conflict and around 30,000 were taken prisoner. More than one-third of POWs of the Japanese died in captivity.
Australians served in the Second World War against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, against Japan in south-east Asia and the Pacific, as well as on the home front.
While Australia had been involved in the war on the side of the Allies since 1939 on 19 February 1943, Australia unexpectedly came under attack with 242 Japanese aircrafts bombing Darwin in two separate attacks, killing more than 250. While this was the original raid and by far the most damaging in terms of loss of life and impact on civilian and military infrastructure, it was only the beginning of a bombing campaign that would continue for over a year and a half throughout northern Australia.
The Defence of Australia lay in the north of our continent: from Broome and Darwin to Cairns and Townsville. Cairns was the closest city to the conflict; only 1,000kms from Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea, and the war that took place in the Coral Sea and Melanesia. The hostilities were at our door in Cairns. Roads, bridges, airfields and port facilities had to be greatly improved. Cairns was transformed from a sleepy tropical township, where sugar, tourism and fishing held sway, to a forward base for the defence of the nation. Nearly one thousand women and children were evacuated by train to the South. In total almost between 5-7000 residents were evacuated from a 1941 population of 15,700. Our city was taken over by Allied Troops with base camps being set up throughout Cairns and the Tablelands.
On the 15 August 1975 the Second World War was officially declared over with Japan accepting the Allied Nations terms of surrender.
Australians should never forget the day the Second World War came to our doorstep! Join us in the marking this momentous occasion on Saturday 15 August, 6:00pm 2020.