Unveiling of Australian Prisoners-of-War Memorial, Mona Vale Headland, Sydney 14 October 2022

When: 10am Friday 14 October, 2022
Where: Robert Dunn Reserve, Mona Vale Headland, Narrabeen Park Parade, Mona Vale.
A memorial commemorating the Australian Prisoners of War, Nurses and civilian internees from Rabaul, Nurses from Singapore and casualties on hospital ships, who lost their lives at sea in the South Pacific during WWII is being unveiled.
The memorial will be jointly unveiled by the Hon. David Elliott MP, NSW Minister for Veterans, the Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Member for Pittwater, Mayor Michael Regan and Deborah Carter, Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch President.
A memorial seat will also be dedicated to the late Wal Williams OAM in recognition of his work to have the Memorial installed, and his advocacy for veterans and Prisoners of War.
Attendees are welcome and no RSVPs are required to the organisers – however, if you can attend could you please email Andrea Williams on admin@montevideo-maru.org
The Hon Rob Stokes, Member for Pittwater, provided a tribute to Wal Williams at: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=485703073355175). He acknowledges the sinking of Montevideo Maru at 3m 6s.
There is further information at: https://www.northernbeachesadvocate.com.au/…/war-heros…/
Wal Williams was one of 136 survivors of 718 Australians on board Rakuyo Maru when it was torpedoed and sunk on 12 September 1944 by US Growler and US Sealion. A total 1317 prisoners-of-war were on board and 1159 died.
After WWII Wal went to PNG to work on boats. He returned to Australia and became an auctioneer.
He was passionate about recognition for allied servicemen and civilians who became prisoners-of-war and received an OAM for his work. He always remembered the soldiers and civilians on Montevideo Maru. After many, many years of working towards achieving a memorial, it was finally approved shortly before he passed away on 4 June 2022.
The recently published book Lost Women of Rabaul by PNGAA member Rod Miller (July 2022; Big Sky Publishing) is the inspirational true story behind the hit ABC-TV drama “Sisters of War” and tells the story of the 18 Australian women who were taken prisoner by the Japanese at Rabaul in January 1942, early in the Pacific War.
Rabaul, the capital of the Australian Territory of New Guinea, has been described as Australia’s ‘front door’ – it is now part of Papua New Guinea.
The disparate group of nurses and civilians were the only women captured on Australian soil to be transported to the heart of the Japanese Empire during the war. Along with the officers of the Australian 2/22nd Battalion (Lark Force), these 18 women were shipped to Japan and spent the remainder of the war, three years and nine months, as prisoners.
They had arrived in Rabaul in April 1941, and spent a year at a military hospital treating soldiers suffering from tropical diseases before the Japanese began dropping bombs.
‘All of a sudden they were on top of us. The Australians were taken by surprise’ Lorna Johnston, nee Whyte, later told The Aucklander.
It didn’t take long before the first wounded soldiers were brought in for treatment – many requiring amputations.
Author, Rod Miller said ‘I had never heard of these women before and wondered why the story of Rabaul was not better known.’
Rod Miller’s book tells how the nurses survived and what the international secrets were that determined their fate.
The DVD, The Tragedy of the Montevideo Maru, produced by John Schindler and Bob Blasdall and narrated by Australian actor John Jarratt, recounts the harrowing story of the sacrifice and suffering endured by these men and boys during the Pacific War. There are accurate reenactments of the sinking and witnesses recount the horrific events publicly for the first time.
The DVD also explores the broader story of torturous POW experiences and features first hand accounts from both Australian and British survivors from two other hell ship sinkings, the Rakuyo Maru and the Kachidoki Maru. There is breathtaking original film of the rescue of survivors from these ships by USS Pampanito and other American submarines. Interviews with American submarine veterans provide first hand actual accounts of these amazing events in World War 2.
The PNGAA and Rabaul & Montevideo Maru group would appreciate if any members can attend the unveiling of the memorial on 14 October 2022.

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