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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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Thursday, 16 April 2015


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today announced the names of the eight Second World War veterans, aged from 90 to 97 years old, who will travel to France and the United Kingdom in May to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe.

The veterans served in the European theatre during the Second World War and will represent Australia at the VE Day commemorations in the United Kingdom and France.

On 7 May 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender on all fronts, bringing an end to the war in Europe. The surrender came into effect at midnight on 8 May, an historic day known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

After five years and eight months of bloodshed, the war that had begun in Europe in September 1939 and spread far beyond the continent was at an end. We must remember though that while peace returned to Europe the war in the Pacific lasted another three months.

Australians served in the war against Germany and her European allies from the beginning, and although their numbers diminished greatly when most were re-deployed to the South West Pacific, Australian soldiers, sailors and particularly airmen, were to be found in the European theatre right up to the German surrender.

Victory meant that those serving in the European theatre, including those who were prisoners of war (POW), could finally return home. Three of the veterans travelling on the VE day mission were POWs.

The veteran representatives travelling on this mission have come from towns and cities across Australia, and for several it will be the first time they have returned to Europe and the United Kingdom since the war ended some 70 years ago. They represent all Australians who served in the European theatre.

In what will be an emotional journey, the veterans will attend services to acknowledge and pay tribute to Australians who served in Europe during the Second World War.

The Minister today acknowledged all those who nominated for the mission and congratulated those selected. “I wish our veterans well on their travels. I’m sure they will have many fascinating stories to share,” he said.

Editor’s note: Follow the veterans on Facebook at Anzac Centenary, 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)2 6289 6313

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veteran representatives travelling to France and the United Kingdom
Name Location Age on mission Unit/Service
Mr Eric Barton NSW 92 No. 186 Squadron, RAF
Mr John Bell VIC 97 No. 216 Squadron, RAF
Mr Norman Ginn SA 91 No. 460 Squadron, RAAF
Mr Peter Jensen NSW 93 No. 461 Squadron, RAAF
Mr Alexander Kerr WA 93 No. 115 Squadron, RAF
Mr Mervyn Reece QLD 91 No. 461 Squadron, RAAF
Mr John Shannon VIC 90 RAF Base Waddington

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 (239 KB)