The 81st Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea

We gathered to honour the 81st anniversary of ‘the battle that saved Australia’ – the Battle of the Coral Sea (4-8 May 1942). The 81st Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea was held on Friday 5th May, with a Commemorative Service at the American-Australian Memorial, Blamey Square in Canberra and a Commemorative Dinner at the Commonwealth Club.

The ceremony was MC’d by AAACBR Vice President Michael Wagstaff and we were joined by senior representatives from both sides of government including the U.S Embassy in Australia, the Embassy of Japan in Australia, Australian and American defence forces, other dignitaries, guests and school children to honour the legacy of those that contributed to our way of life. We listened to speeches from Minister Tadaatsu Mori – Charge d’affaires ad interim of Embassy of Japan, Captain Kevin “Q” Quarderer, USN, U.S. Naval Attache – representing the U.S. Ambassador, US Embassy Canberra, AAACBR President Alicia Doherty and Senator the Hon Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism, Special Minister of State who spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister of Australia.

At the Commemorative Dinner we explored the importance of reflecting on what has been done in the past in order to envision what might be in the future and the role that organisations like RSL Australia, the Tingara Australia Association, the AAACBR, the Australian War Memorial, the American Legion, the American Legon Auxiliary and others have been doing. We were also joined by Kerry Holyoake, daughter of recently passed, Derek Holyoake, Canberra’s last surviving veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the last of the Navy ‘Rats of Tobruk’. Kerry and ‘Choco’ shared stories of Derek, illustrating his big heart, his sense of humour and his love of nature.

Derek was also an impassioned member of the AAACBR. He will be dearly missed by all of us and all who were lucky to have known him. 

Fare winds and Following Seas Derek.

To learn more about Derek’s incredible life, please take time to listen to his story on the Australian War Memorial’s website or follow this link – In Their words #anzacathome:

#battleofthecoralsea #veterans #canberra #lesweforget #wewillrememberthem

The Battle of the Coral Sea commemoration service at the Australian-American memorial at Russell offices in Canberra. This was the 81st anniversary of the battle which took place from the 4th to 8th May 1942. This was a major Naval battle between Imperial Japanese Navy and Naval and Air forces of the United states and Australia. The commemoration was conducted using Navy members of the Australia’s Federation Guard. The Royal Australian Navy was in attendance with high ranking officers and officials present for the commemoration.