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26 April 2018

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Mention of both the South West Pacific Area and Papua in my ANZAC Day talk is a subtle reference (without spending time to explain it to my Springbrook audience) to the status of Australia's Militia volunteer conscripts – akin to the later Citizens Military Force (CMF) and today’s Reserve volunteers.

In 1939 there was large-scale opposition to the concept of conscription and the provisions of the Defence Act precluded conscripts from serving outside Australian territory. Papua was conveniently a Territory, hence my specifically referring to the 39th of Kokoda as Militia (second last paragraph).

The Papuan Campaign was from 21 July 1942 to 22 January 1943.

On 26 January 1943 changes to the Act meant that Militia units were able to serve anywhere south of the Equator in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Thanks for raising these oft forgotten facts Doug.

The younger generation now seems to want to become involved yet has virtually no idea in why ANZAC Day is important.

Those who march, whether they know it or not, represent those who marched off to defend our freedom today and did not come back. Even those who did come back often brought back their wounded bodies and horrific memories.

I had a discussion last year just before ANZAC Day with someone who had a sign up declaring everyone should celebrate ANZAC Day. I explained that no one should celebrate war or its consequences but instead commemorate those who gave their all that we today may enjoy whatever we have.

As our Kiap fraternity goes on its last patrol I wonder what we will be remembered or even if there will be any memories at all?

We didn't do such a bad job in so a short time considering the circumstances and that at best, around 250 of us were responsible for nearly 3 million people with a death rate due to duty equivalent to the Australian Forces in the Vietnam War.

Lest we forget!

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