How Australians marked the 75th anniversary

While Australians tuned in on the morning of 15 August to watch the national commemorative service acknowledging the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, there were many other ways we as a nation marked the occasion.

28 October 2020

The #OneInAMillion Wall of Respect project was launched by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester at the beginning of August, and Australians from across the country joined in by sharing on social media images and stories of their family members who served.

Woman holding up article that reads ‘Life longlove was a name in the hat’.

This small but meaningful act ensured that the stories and memories of their loved ones who served in the war were shared with the country and will live on for years to come.

Dr Kerri-Ann Woodbury, a veteran herself, shared the love story of her grandfather who served in Dutch New Guinea and Bougainville. Dr Woodbury’s grandfather pulled his future wife’s name out of a hat when she and some friends offered to be pen pals for deployed soldiers. They later became engaged via mail. He was one of the fortunate ones who returned to Australia and they lived a long and happy life together.

Australians also explored their own family history, and discovered more about a relative who served. All they had to do was ‘Just Ask’ the question. A new education activity was created to further encourage students to learn about our veterans and wartime history using the Nominal Rolls, which were recently consolidated into one website, making it easier to search and find information.

Ancestry.com.au made access free to their military service records from 13 to 16 August to help Australians who wanted to dig a little deeper. It is never too late to ‘Just Ask’ and look in to your family history — get started now.

The department also shared the stories of some remarkable Australians who served through the '75 days, 75 stories’ series and the animated video series ‘#OneInAMillion: Hearing their Stories’ project.

Starting 75 days prior to the commemorative anniversary on 15 August, a story a day was released telling of someone who was impacted by the war, from veterans to those on the home front or loved ones. Like that of Reg Chard, a veteran who recalls how he was making plans with two of his fellow soldiers about one of their weddings when they returned from war. Tragically, the next minute his comrades were both shot and killed and Reg was the only one who survived.

The #OneInAMillion: Hearing their Stories project captured the compelling stories of eight Australians who served during the Second World War. Watch these animated videos to hear first-hand accounts of wartime experiences.

They say a picture paints a thousand words, and this is the case for our digital photo exhibition and Sites of Significance: Now and Then campaign.

The photo exhibition features 20 images of men and women who served during the war. If you have a moment, please take a look at these images and join us in paying our respects to them.

Promotional image for Sites of significance.

Sites of Significance: Now and Then is a joint project with state and territory governments to showcase what important locations across Australia looked like during the War, and what they look like now – some 75 years later.

These are some must-see pictures that capture some iconic sites, including up north when Darwin was bombed.

While the 75th anniversary of the end of the War has passed, it’s not too late to pay our respects to our Second World War veterans and ensure their stories are never forgotten and their legacy lives on.

Living Second World War veterans are also encouraged to apply for a specially produced commemorative medallion and certificate.