Australians remember our Second World War veterans

On 15 August 2020, Australians tuned into watch a national commemorative service acknowledging the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

24 August 2020

Seated dignitaries in large exhibition space.

The service was broadcast nationally on TV and livestreamed online and on social media. This provided all Australians with the opportunity to stand together to remember and thank an incredible generation of Australians for their service during the Second World War.

Almost one million Australians served during the War. Remarkably, some 12,000 Second World War veterans are still with us today. Three of them — Mr Derek Holyoake (Royal Australian Navy), Mr Les Cook (Australian Army) and Mr Lance Cooke (Royal Australian Air Force) — attended the closed-for-TV National Commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial.

Dignitaries including the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Linda Hurley and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, joined these remarkable veterans in commemorating those who served and remembering the fallen.

Australia’s Federation Guard formed an honour guard to welcome Mr Holyoake, Mr Cook and Mr Cooke to the Australian War Memorial.

Dr Matilda House, a Ngambri elder, opened the service with a Welcome to Country and acknowledged the service and sacrifice of Indigenous Australians during the Second World War, as her great-grandson, Michael House, a proud Ngambri man, stood by her side proudly wearing the medals of his great-grandfather, Frederick James.

‘[It was] a time of sacrifice and struggle,’ Prime Minister Morrison said as he described the commitment of Australians to their nation. ‘And of a great victory that changed the course of human history. During the Second World War, one million Australians wore our uniform and made the silent promise to give their lives for their country, if need be.’

Prime Minister Morrison personally thanked Mr Holyoake, Mr Cook and Mr Cooke and extended this recognition to that incredible generation of Australians.

‘Now in your sunset, we honour you. We honour your generation — in my view, Australia’s greatest — and we say thank you.’

The National Commemorative Service concluded with the Dismount of the Catafalque Party and a flypast of two historic aircraft — a CA-16 Wirraway Trainer and a Lockheed Hudson Bomber.

If you missed the live broadcast of the national commemorative service, you can livestream it on the Commemorations and War Graves Australia Facebook page or on the ABC’s on-demand and catch-up TV service, ABC iview (until 13 November).

Two elderly men seating with others  — in exhibition hall

Second World War veterans Lance Cooke and Derek Holyoake. © Commonwealth of Australia 2020