Western Port News 19 August 2020

Page 6


Wreath honours brave, but neglected, service Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au HASTINGS police laid a wreath at the cenotaph at Hastings commemorating the war service of veterans representing US Army Small Ships, Saturday 15 August. The small service performed by Acting Sergeant David Kennedy and Constable Kip Mulvogue on the 75th anniversary of VP Day – Victory in the Pacific – referred to Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender made on 14 August 1945. For Australians, it meant World War II was finally over. COVID-19 restrictions prevented a larger ceremony, but the wreath-laying went some way towards honouring the memories of the 3328 Australians, including one woman, who served alongside 1372 US Army personnel as well as New Zealanders, Canadians, Chinese, Danes, British, Filipino, Dutch, Austrian, Torres Strait Islanders, French and even an Eskimo in our darkest days. Theirs is one of the most neglected histories of the war, but official recognition in the past few years is now making their service more widely known. The vice-president of the US Small Ships Section David Lloyd said Hastings was chosen for the ceremony because “it is typical of the sleepy little seaside ports from which so many volunteer crews originated” – as well as being close to the Flinders Naval Depot, since renamed HMAS Cerberus. The Small Ships Section was formed in response to Japanese advances in the South Pacific in 1942. Its irregular crews began landings in New Guinea, with their “attack fleet” consisting of a ragtag variety of vessels, including thou-

sands of fishing trawlers, schooners, ketches, luggers, tugs, yachts and ferries acquired or built here or in New Zealand. Men and boys from different backgrounds served the section on civilian contract. Their ages ranged from 15-80, with hundreds being physically disabled and other veterans of previous conflicts. Their small ships would land troops, evacuate the wounded and carry supplies, mainly at night, in most cases without radio or charts, in unknown waters. Members achieved the most incredible nautical feats and performed acts of bravery. Officially 36 Australian members were killed in action. Small Ships’ crews had their own song: The Suicide Squadron. After the war, Australians who served in the Small Ships Section were officially “unrecognised” and no information about their service was made publicly available. Mr Lloyd said this lack of recognition led to shame and resentment. Many members never spoke about their service and most died long before official recognition was achieved. The US government granted veteran status to WWII merchant mariners in 1988. Spurred on by this, and through tenacious campaigning over many years, recognition was finally achieved in 2009 when an honours and awards tribunal recommended Australian imperial campaign awards be granted to Small Ships veterans on the same basis as members of the Merchant Navy. Anyone who believes a member of their family served with USASOS, army transport service or Small Ships Section during WWII can contact the association by emailing Vice-President@ usarmysmallships.asn.au

CROWDS at this year’s Tyabb Air Show. Picture: Gary Sissons

Hearings could lead to airfield shut down aware of these enforcement proceedings, to allow everyone with a stake in the airport an opportunity to make their views known to VCAT and oppose the making of the enforcement order,” Mr Vevers said. “As we have said all along, and despite the shire’s claim … of wanting the airport to 'thrive’, it is clear they are committed to limiting the airport’s operations to the point where closure is the only outcome. “PAC is bewildered that under the current COVID-19 environment, the shire continues to attack people’s jobs and is spending hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars in VCAT hearings on what we believe will only confirm what 50 plus years of previous tribunal and panel hearings have acknowledged and endorsed.” Mr Vevers said recognition in 1983 by a planning panel that the “Westernport Airfield” was “recognised and protected” by a special use zoning and “provides a general aviation facility on the Mornington Peninsula at no cost to the community” was “as accurate and relevant today as it was nearly 40 years ago”. Keith Platt

PENINSULA Aero Club says the enforcement order being sought by Mornington Peninsula Shire, if granted, will “effectively” shut down the Tyabb airfield. A news release issued by PAC president Jack Vevers following last Friday’s “practice” VCAT hearing said the shire’s intent was to “strangle airport operations to the point where it will become unviable. This will cause many job losses and the demise of the emergency response facility”. “Of course, all of this is predicated on the shire’s assertion that PAC does not have permits to continue to conduct its operations at Tyabb Airport, as it has for several decades,” Mr Vevers said. “PAC has consistently maintained that it has all of the permits required.” He hoped the results of an earlier hearing into the so-called holy hour restriction on Sunday flying “will shed further light on the matters in dispute between PAC and the council”. PAC has requested orders from VCAT today to direct the shire to make all persons who might be affected by the making of the enforcement order

The LARGEST shoe store on the peninsula.


% OFF *










9785 1887



*Not available on discounted items. Valid until 25/8/2020. Use discount code at the checkout online or mention on phone orders.


Western Port News 19 August 2020

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.