Naval Association to honour Coastwatchers

A message from the Naval Association of Australia

Second World War Coastwatchers will be commemorated at the monthly Naval Association of Australia ceremony at the Jack Tar statue at South Brisbane Memorial Park (next to the Ship Inn) at 10.30am on Thursday 27 July.

The address will be delivered by Dr Rosemary Gill, daughter of Lieutenant James Connal Howard Gill – a 23-year-old Naval Reservist who recruited, trained and managed a network of ordinary people who stepped up and achieved extraordinary things for their country. Descendants of legendary decorated Coastwatchers Paul Mason DSC and Bill Bennett MM will be attending along with representatives from the United States, Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Chinese communities.

Coastwatchers rescued 75 prisoners of war, 321 shot-down Allied airmen, 280 shipwrecked naval personnel, 190 missionaries and other civilians, uncounted Islanders and 260 Asian people who had put their own lives into danger.

Apart from their intelligence-gathering duties, Coastwatchers also rescued stranded Allied sailors and airmen including future U.S. President John F Kennedy after his patrol torpedo boat, PT-109, was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. President Kennedy’s daughter Caroline is now the Ambassador of the United States in Australia and will be attending the ceremony.

A memorial in Madang in Papua New Guinea that’s dedicated to the 36 Australian Coastwatchers killed in the line of duty says: ‘They watched and warned and died that we might live’.

For more information on the ceremony, please contact Jayne Keogh on 0418 882 408.

More information on the Coastwatchers can be found on DVA's Anzac Portal:

Below: Sergeant Frank J Parmiter of Coburg, Vic, and Corporal Ivan G Pritchard, of Kensington, NSW  spotters with the New Guinea Air Warning Wireless Company  at work beside their AWA radio at an observation post.

Two men in Army uniform crouching by an old radio in the jungle