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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Tuesday, 15 April 2014


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today announced that eight veterans of the D-Day and Normandy campaign during the Second World War will travel back to France at the start of June to mark the 70th anniversary of the landings, which were so crucial in bringing the Second World War to an end.

“On 6 June 1944, a day commonly known as D-Day, Australians aided the Allied attempts to overpower German resilience and gain aerial dominance of the skies and secure the vital Atlantic shipping lanes.”

“Australian efforts mainly came in the form of aerial support, with some 2,000 to 2,500 Australian airmen serving in the Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons which took part in operations associated with the invasion. Around 500 Australian sailors also served aboard Royal Navy Vessels, while around a dozen Australian soldiers were attached to British Army formations,” Senator Ronaldson said.

The veterans from across Australia who were members of the Royal Australian Air Force, will travel back to France and join their Allied comrades from countries such as the UK, US, New Zealand and Canada on Friday 6 June for an international commemorative service to mark the special occasion.

“Operation Overlord, the name given to the invasion of France, was ambitious to say the least, a logistical and military challenge that to this day remains the largest amphibious operation in the history of warfare.”

“Australians, as they always have done, served with great courage and valour, playing a crucial role, flying with precision and serving on land and at sea to support Allied efforts,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“The opportunity to travel back to France and re-connect with their mates and former comrades will bring back memories for these men. It also serves as a chance to remember and pay tribute to those who are no longer with us, including the eighteen Australians known to have been killed in the D-Day, this includes Australian airmen killed on the night of 5–6 June.”

Many Australians also lost their lives in operations directly related to the invasion of France, in the days leading up to and directly following 6 June 1944 as fighting in Normandy was underway.

“I wish our veterans well on their travels, on what will no doubt be a moving journey back to place they once so fiercely fought alongside Allied formations,” Senator Ronaldson said .

Editor’s note: Follow the veterans on Facebook at DVA Aus, Twitter at @dvaaus and Flickr at DVA Aus.
Veteran biographies, images, historical background and other resources are available
at For interviews with veteran representatives contact or +61 (0) 412 105 056

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veteran representatives travelling to France
Name Location Age on mission Unit/Service
Squadron Leader Robert Cowper DFC & Bar, OAM (Retd) Netley, SA 91 456 Night fighter Squadron RAAF
Mr Stuart Davis Port Macquarie, NSW 92 16 Squadron & 122 Squadron RAF
Mr Phillip Elger Caringbah NSW 93 15 Bomber Squadron RAF
Mr Francis Evans Sylvania, NSW 90 625 Squadron RAF
Dr Ronald Houghton DFC Milsons Point, NSW 89 102 Squadron RAF
Mr Billy Purdy DFC Mosman, NSW 91 463 Squadron RAAF
Mr Frederick Riley One Tree Hill, SA 95 130 (Punjab) Squadron RAF

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (48 KB)