A number of solemn ceremonies and wreath layings were conducted on Saturday morning to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Cowra Breakout.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
The day began on Saturday morning two ceremonies at the site of the Cowra Prisoner of War Camp, one to remember the Australian and Japanese casualties of the Breakout and one to remember Italian prisoners of war.
Lawrance Ryan from the Cowra Breakout Association said the site had been built up over the past seven decades to better reflect upon the events of August 5, 1944.
“Over the years there has been some considerable development around this area to better interpret the Prisoner of War Camp for the people of Cowra and for visitors,” he said.
He also gave a brief history of the Cowra POW Camp.
“This location marks the site of Number 12 POW Camp, it was in operation between 1941 and 1947. Seventy-three years ago, on this morning at 1:50am, 1,104 Japanese prisoners of war charged the wire in B Compound,” he said.
“As a result, 231 were killed, 107 were wounded and 334 escaped and were recaptured over the ensuing nine days.
“Four Australians were killed and eight were wounded.”
Harvey Nicholson from the Cowra Italy Friendship Association also conducted a small ceremony for the Italian prisoners of war held in Cowra from 1941 till 1946.
“This monument has been erected and dedicated to Italian soldiers from all wars, not just the Second World War and to all POW camps and also to the other nations who had both civilians and soldiers captured and held as POW,” he said.
The commemorations then moved to the Australian and Japanese War Cemeteries at the Cowra Cemetery.
A ceremony was conducted for the four Australian soldiers killed during the Cowra Breakout – Lieutenant Harry Doncaster and Privates Benjamin Gower Hardy, Ralph Jones and Charles Henry Shepherd.
Privates Hardy and Jones were awarded the George Cross for bravery on the night of the Breakout.
The next wreath laying ceremony took place at the Japanese War Cemetery, with Japanese representatives remembering their fallen ancestors. A special Buddhist prayer also took place, led by the Reverend William Sato.
Wreaths were laid by Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West, Japanese Ambassador Kusaka and Mrs Kusaka, Japanese Captain Armano, members of the Cowra Breakout Association, Cowra SES, Cowra Italy Friendship Association, Chor Farmers Choir, POW Research Network, Cowra High School students, Cowra Public School students, Mulyan Public School students and St Raphael’s School students.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.