Cowra reflects on 74th anniversary of Breakout | Photos

Sunday marked the 74th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout, with two wreath laying ceremonies held to commemorate one of the most historic events in the town’s history.  

The day began with two ceremonies at the Cowra Prisoner of War (POW) Camp, one to remember the Australian and Japanese casualties of the Breakout and one to remember Italian prisoners of war. 

Cowra Breakout Association Media Officer, Lawrance Ryan, said the weather was perfect for the occasion. 

“Thank you for joining us today on what’s a very beautiful day overlooking the site of the only land battle fought on Australian soil during the second World War, here at the Cowra Prisoner of War Camp,” he said. 

“Very, very pleasant conditions.” 

Two wreaths were then laid at the Italian Memorial. 

The official ceremony was conducted at the Australian and Japanese War Cemeteries by members of the Cowra RSL sub-Branch. 

The first 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. Wreaths were laid by: 

  • Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West with His Excellency, Mr Sumio Kusaka and Mrs Ikuko Kusaka
  • Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke MP
  • Councillor Ray Walsh and Captain Shinsuke Amano 
  • Cowra RSL sub-Branch President Jono Webber and Col. Shigehiro Noshita
  • Mr Hideaki Ishii 
  • Harvey Nicholson and Kathy Ryan
  • Mr Bob Griffiths 
  • Cr Judi Smith
  • Rev. Shig Watanabe
  • Mr Alan Vorias 
  • Rev James Wilson
  • Students from Cowra High School, Cowra Public School, Mulyan Public and St Raphael’s
  • Cowra SES