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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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Wednesday, 25 June 2014
VA039

PASSING OF CYRIL GILBERT OAM

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today expressed his sorrow at the passing of Cyril Reginald Gilbert OAM, former National President of the Ex-Prisoner of War (POW) Association who devoted his lifetime to assisting his fellow Ex POW’s and the veteran community.

As a Second World War veteran and former Changi POW, Cyril served as both National and Queensland State President of the Ex-POW Association.

“He was a true advocate for his fellow veterans, recognised through the award of the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the veteran community and the Centenary Medal.

“Cyril enlisted in the Australian Army on 9 July 1940, just after his 20th birthday. He was a Lance Sergeant in the 8th Division 27th Brigade Australian Army Service Corps, before eventually being captured at the fall of Singapore in February 1942. He spent three and a half years as a POW, working on the Thai Burma Railway in 1943 during this time. He discharged from the Army in February 1946,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Cyril also gave great service to the Returned and Services League of Australia. He received life membership and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal which is the highest award that may be made by the League. He was also made honourary life vice president of the Queensland RSL.

Recognising not only the contribution Cyril made to the veteran community, but the wider community, in 2009 an oncology unit at Brisbane’s Greenslopes Private Hospital was opened in his honour.

“The Cyril Gilbert Cancer Centre, to this day, provides state-of-the-art treatment facilities for people with this life threatening disease.”

“Cyril was a passionate advocate for his fellow ex-POWs. It was a sad day late last year when the Queensland Association was wound-up due to the decline of members. However, the memory of Cyril and his fellow ex-POWs will live in perpetuity on the walls of Australian Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial in Ballarat.”

Cyril was part of a commemorative mission to Parit Sulong, representing all veterans of the campaign in Malaysia at the dedication of a new memorial to those who served in that Battle. This was one of a number of Department of Veterans’ Affairs missions to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia on which Cyril was a representative.

“My thoughts are with Cyril’s family at this difficult time, and I can assure you that his efforts and lifetime of work to the veteran community will never be forgotten,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
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

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