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Media releases & speeches

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

4 February 2017

2017 Domestic and Overseas Commemorations

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said 2017 would feature a number of significant military commemorations to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have fought to defend our country.

Registration to attend overseas commemorations is now open and passes are provided at no cost. Details on how to register are available on DVA’s website at www.dva.gov.au. Passes are not required to attend domestic commemorations.

In Australia, commemorations will be held for 75th anniversaries of Second World War events, the Fall of Singapore, the Battle of the Coral Sea, Bomber Command operations, the Battle of Milne Bay, the Battle of El Alamein and the culmination of the North Africa campaigns, and Kokoda and the Beachheads. A commemoration will also be held to recognise the 70th anniversary of the contribution made by Australian peacekeepers and peacemakers around the world.

Overseas, Australia will commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Bullecourt in France, the Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium and the Battle of Beersheba in Israel from the First World War.

The Australian Government will support Anzac Day Dawn Services in France, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Borneo in 2017.

On 25 April, the commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt will be recognised in a service at the ‘Digger Memorial’ in the Australian Memorial Park in Bullecourt. More than 1,100 Australians were taken prisoner during the Battle of Bullecourt — the largest number captured in a single engagement during the First World War.

A commemoration to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood will be held at Buttes New British Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium on 26 September 2017. Polygon Wood was one of five battles in which Australians were involved as part of the larger British and dominion offensive known as the Third Battle of Passchendaele. In eight weeks of fighting there were 38,000 Australian casualties.

On 31 October 2017, in Israel, a commemoration will recognise the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, and the famous charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. At sunset on 31 October 1917, the light horsemen charged the Turkish lines using their bayonets as swords; the momentum of the surprise attack carried them through the Turkish defences and more than 1,000 prisoners were taken.

In 2017 Australia will also mark its other days of national commemoration including Battle for Australia Day, Merchant Navy Day and Remembrance Day.

“As a nation we continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in defence of our nation,” Mr Tehan said.

“It is incredibly moving to stand on a foreign field where Australians have fought and died for our values and reflect on the enormous debt we owe to the men and women who serve in our military.

“Many Australians will be planning overseas trips this year to attend a commemoration service and pay their respects and I encourage them to register early.”

A list of key domestic and international commemorations for 2017 is attached.

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 4719

Key Domestic and International Commemorations for 2017
Date Commemoration Location
15 February 2017 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore Ballarat, Victoria
25 April 2017     Anzac Day Canberra Anzac Day Turkey Anzac Day France Anzac Day PNG Anzac Day Thailand Anzac Day Borneo Anzac Day Belgium Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt Australian War Memorial Gallipoli, Turkey Villers-Bretonneux, France Isurava, PNG Hellfire Pass, Thailand Sandakan, Borneo Ypres, Belgium Bullecourt, France
4 May 2017 Battle of Coral Sea Day Australian War Memorial
4 June 2017 75th anniversary of Bomber Command Operations Australian War Memorial
25 August 2017 75th anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay Australian War Memorial
14 September 2017 70th anniversary Australian Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Anzac Parade, Canberra
26 September 2017 Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, Passchendaele Zonnebeke, Belgium
23 October 2017 75th anniversary of the start of El Alamein Australian War Memorial
31 October 2017 Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, Sinai Palestine Campaign Be’er Sheva, Israel
2 November 2017 75th anniversary of Kokoda and the beachheads Australian War Memorial

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.