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Brunei-Australia Memorial to WWII Unviels

‚Äčpreview.jpgMuara, Sunday 14 December 2008 - The Brunei-Australia Memorial was unveiled yesterday to honour Australian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the World War II for Brunei to be the liberated nation-state today and symbolises the friendship between the two countries.

Six brave men who came to the shores of Borneo and Labuan to fight for the freedom of Bruneians 63 years ago returned yesterday for a heartfelt memorial for the 114 fellow servicemen who lost their lives on Brunei soil.

Two World War II diggers - Bill Corey and Steve Gooch - who represented the 20,000 men who landed on Brunei shores as part of the final push by Australians in the Pacific six decades ago, unveiled a memorial plaque at Muara Beach yesterday.

Muara Beach, known during the operation as "Green Beach", was the landing site for many Australian servicemen in an operation called "Oboe 6" to retake Brunei and Labuan at the end of World War II.

The words "1945 In Memory" were engraved in English, Malay and Jawi onto the polished green marble stone plaque in commemoration of efforts of the Australian 9th Division in June 1945, as well as the cooperation between the people of Brunei and Australia.

The memorial began in Labuan as the six ageing servicemen paid their respects to their fellow servicemen who had been killed and were laid to rest in Labuan. On Muara Beach, the ceremony began with a Call to Commemoration followed by prayers and readings by some of the veterans. Wreaths were later laid prior to a moment of silence to honour the fallen servicemen.

Brunei's Deputy Minister of Defence Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Paduka Hj Mohammad Yasmin bin Hj Umar said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the ties between the two countries have developed in strength.

This was indicated by regular interactions with increasing avenues of cooperation in the areas of culture, education, health, trade, air services, counter-terrorism and defence.

"Australia has also been, until now, very forthcoming in its policy towards this region and we are really appreciative of that," he added.

Pehin Dato Hj Mohd Yasmin said that the memorial also commemorated the soldiers as they played a significant role in establishing the initial ties between our two countries.

"This commemoration allows us to acknowledge the struggle, the hurt and pain, the courage and bravery of the 20th Australian Infantry Brigade of the Ninth division, who had, with the cooperation of the people of Brunei on June 10, 1945 landed on the beaches at both ends of Brunei Bay and successfully led the allied liberation of Brunei," the Deputy Minister said.

"This memorial serves as a reminder for us Bruneians and especially for our future generations of the importance of our friendship and bonds with the Australians and how vital it is for us to uphold and strengthen these relations, knowing how significant Australia's contributions are to our country."

He went on to say that the memorial could be seen as another defining moment in the course of the growing relationship, especially since the ties of diplomacy between Brunei and Australia is entering its silver jubilee next year.

Meanwhile The Honorable Alan Griffin MP, Minister for Austrlian Veteran Affairs also speaking at the event said that "The memorial encapsulates the fact that we have an excellent relationship between the two countries," "It also symbolises the strong ties that have been built particularly over the last 20 years as Brunei has grown and taken its place amongst the nations of this region," he added.

He said that the memorial has been long time coming - a notion reiterated by most of the veterans. But it was worth the wait, he added.

"It provides an excellent focus for those who would come here for a moment of quiet reflection to recall what took place 63 years ago... the courage and sacrifices of those who came to liberate Brunei," Griffin said, adding that it also shows the level of support Australian troops got from the people of Brunei during that time.