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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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Monday, 15 December 2014


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, paid tribute to the first Australian troops to leave our shores for service in the Second World War 75 years ago today.

On 15 December 1939, just over 100 Australians boarded the liner Strathallan bound for Palestine. Sailing with them was a small contingent of New Zealanders. Together they formed an advance guard, sent to prepare for the arrival of the main body of Australian and New Zealand troops the following month.

From their training grounds in Palestine, the Australians went on to the campaigns against the armies of Germany, Italy and Vichy France in North Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Greece and Crete. Later the survivors returned to the southern hemisphere to face the Japanese in South East Asia and the Pacific.

These first men to leave Australia were at the vanguard of Australia’s overseas effort during the Second World War. They and those who followed left knowing they had the support of the entire country. With them went Australia’s best wishes and the nation’s prayers for their safe return.

Among the first personnel to leave Australia were some who would never return. In that war some 40,000 Australians lost their lives on active service. Many more suffered wounds and thousands endured years of captivity in Europe and later in Asia.

The Anzac Centenary period is a time for all Australians to commemorate a Century of Service, and to honour the service and sacrifice of all those who have worn our nation’s uniform, including the more than 102,000 who lost their lives in Australia’s service.

We remember the efforts of all those who served during the Second World War, from those who first left these shores on December 15 1939, to those who defended the home front and others who served later in the war. As a nation we honour them all.

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Jordi Procel 02 6277 7820 or 0448 232 908
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

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 (104 KB)