Significant commemorations

In recent months, we paused on special commemorative days to remember the service and sacrifice of Australian and Allied service personnel in the following conflicts.

Battle of the Atlantic

On 1 May each year, we pause to remember the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest military campaign of the Second World War. The day recognises the almost six-year battle to control the Atlantic shipping lanes, costing the lives of more than 72,000 Allied naval and merchant mariners.

Battle of the Coral Sea

On 4 May 1942, Australian and United States naval forces entered into a four-day battle against imperial Japan in what would become known as the Battle of the Coral Sea. More than 500 US personnel perished in the battle, over 60 aircraft were shot down, and one carrier – the USS Lexington – was lost. Though the Allies suffered more ship losses, their efforts prevented the Japanese from achieving their objective of capturing Port Moresby in an amphibious operation.

Victory in Europe Day

VE Day is commemorated on 8 May every year to mark the end of the Second Word War in Europe. Seventy eight years ago, the German High Command surrendered unconditionally, ending more than five and a half years of conflict. Over 10,000 Australians lost their lives in the European and Mediterranean theatres of the war against Germany and Italy, more than 10,000 were wounded and some 8,000 became prisoners of war.

105th Anniversary of the Battle of Hamel

On 4 July 1918, Australian General Sir John Monash led a combined arms assault with infantry, artillery, tanks and aircraft on the village of Le Hamel, France. In just 93 minutes, the Allies overwhelmed the German forces and captured the village, advancing 2 km along a 6 km front. The 15th Australian Infantry Brigade launched a successful diversionary attack at the same time on the German front line east of Ville-sur-Ancre.

105 years ago, Australians and Americans fought side by side on a battlefield for the first time. 1,062 Australians and 176 US soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice at Le Hamel, while another 142 Australians were killed at Ville-sur-Ancre.

Victory in the Pacific Day

On 15 August each year, Australians commemorate VP Day – the day on which the Second World War ended following the unconditional surrender of Japan, 78 years ago. Almost a million Australians served their nation during the Second World War, around 40,000 lost their lives and many suffered wounds and injuries.

Malaya and Borneo Veterans’ Day

Commemorated on 31 August, this national day recognises the service and sacrifice of all Australians who served in the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation. Thirty nine Australians lost their lives while serving in the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) and 23 perished in the Indonesian Confrontation (1962–1966).

Merchant Navy Day

This designated national day of remembrance, marked on 3 September, recognises the critical contributions of merchant sailors in wartime. Merchant ships and their civilian crews were responsible for transporting service personnel, supplies and equipment. Some were also converted into hospital ships for wartime service.  Thousands of Australian merchant mariners served in conflicts up until the Vietnam War, and many hundreds died serving the Allied cause during the two world wars.

Battle for Australia Day

Marked on the first Wednesday of September, this official annual day of commemoration recognises the period during the Second World War when Australia came under direct attack, the series of battles in the region that helped in our defence. On this day, we recognise all those who fought in the Pacific theatre during the war, and especially those who were involved in defending our nation.