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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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Friday, 6 June 2014


Today is the 70th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings – the largest amphibious operation in the history of warfare.

Australia’s main contribution to the D-Day landings was in the air with up to 2,500 Australians flying in Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons. Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army personnel also participated in the D-Day Landings. 

On D-Day, 18 Australians made the ultimate sacrifice, including the Australian airmen killed on the night of 5–6 June. Today, we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice and promise to always reflect on their enduring contribution.

Seven Australian veterans of the D-Day landings and the Normandy Campaign will later today (Australian time) join the Prime Minister at a Commonwealth service in Bayeux Cathedral, Normandy, to remember lost mates and honour the truly remarkable feats of all those who served and died in the Campaign 70 years ago.

For some of the veterans, this visit will be the first time they have returned to France since they served. For them, it is an important opportunity to re-connect with former comrades, reflect on the past and remember those who are no longer with us.

The veterans will take part in an International Commemorative Service at Sword Beach alongside British, American, New Zealand and Canadian comrades, as well as a wreath laying and commemorative services at memorials across France, including at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.  World leaders, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and US President Obama will participate in these commemorations.

D-Day marked the beginning of the end of Nazi aggression across Europe, during the Second World War. Within a year of the D-Day landing, peace had been declared in Europe. We acknowledge those who lost their lives in operations directly related to the invasion of France in the period leading up to 6 June and the days that followed. Many Allied air crew flew in support of ground troops engaged in fighting.

Lest we forget. 

Editor’s note: A list of the veterans is attached. Follow their journey on Facebook at DVA Aus, Twitter at @dvaaus and Flickr at DVA Aus. For more information on the D-Day landings and Normandy Campaign visit the Australian War Memorial website.

Media inquiries:
Senator Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Veteran interviews:  or +61 (0) 412 105 056

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 (115 KB)