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Speeches

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

SPEECH

1 May 2018

Speech - 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic

Good afternoon and thank you for being part of this national commemorative service to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.

I would especially like to thank and acknowledge the veterans and their relatives who are here today.

It is with great respect that we hold this reception in your honour.

I wish to acknowledge the sad passing on Sunday of Walter Wright, who proudly served with the Royal Australian Navy throughout the Battle of the Atlantic and was due to join us today.

Walter served as a Navigator aboard the HMAS Norman, reaching the rank of Lieutenant during the war.

I extend my sincerest condolences to Mr Wright’s wife Marie, along with the rest of his family, and I thank him for his service to his country.

Australians played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic. This battle was critical to an Allied victory in the Second World War. Had it been lost, the war might have taken a very different course.

May 2018 marks 75 years since the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, during which Germany sought to isolate Britain, denying her vital war materiel, food, fuel and reinforcements by severing the Atlantic shipping lanes.

It was a deadly campaign which proved to be the longest of the Second World War.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome”.

The Battle reached its climax in early 1943, as the Allies managed to sink some 100 German U-boats in the first five months of the year, rendering the German blockade ineffective.

Veterans, some of them here today, recall being shot at in their aircraft as they engaged the enemy.

Many of you have spoken with feeling and regret about losing some of “the finest men” you have ever known during this battle.

The award of thousands of Atlantic Stars to Australians gives us a sense of how many people from our shores risked their lives in this campaign.

Today is an opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the service and sacrifice of so many.

We as a nation thank you and respect you for your service.

We thank you for the sacrifices you have made to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we value today.

Lest We Forget.

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.