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Australia's War 1939 - 1945
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transcript
VP Day, Canberra,
Harold Abbot, 1945.
[Oil on canvas on board
45.4 x 60.8 cm, AWM ART22923]
Prime Minister John Curtin and Treasurer Ben Chifley who became the new Prime Minister of Australia after John Curtinís death.
[NAA A1200, L26035]

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VE Day service at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
[AWM F01439]



Victory (8 May 1945/15 August 1945)

Fellow citizens, the war is over.

The Japanese Government has accepted the terms of surrender imposed by the Allied Nations and hostilities will now cease. The reply by the Japanese Government to the note sent by Britain, the United States, the USSR and China, has been received and accepted by the Allied Nations.

At this moment let us offer thanks to God.

Let us remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may look forward to a peace which they have won for us.

Prime Minister Ben Chifley announcing the end of the war against Japan, 15 August 1945. [V-P Announcement: Segment No. 179490 in Prime Ministers of Australia: A Compilation of Speeches and Interviews. Screensound Australia, National Screen and Sound Collection, Screensound Title No: 214438]

By the beginning of 1945 Australians had been at war for over five years. Now they believed that the Allies would be victorious and that both the war in Europe and the war with Japan would end. In Europe, the Germans surrendered on 7 May, just a week after the death of Adolf Hitler. Australian prisoners of war in European prison camps were liberated and Australian sailors and aircrew began returning home.

'Victory'
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Three months later, devastated by Allied bombing and the threat of invasion, Japan surrendered. On 6 and 9 August, American bombers had dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. The Japanese ceased fighting a week later on 15 August 1945 and on 2 September 1945 formally surrendered to the Allies in a ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Other surrenders of Japanese armies in the field took place across Asia and the Pacific. Thousands of servicemen and women now began returning home and surviving prisoners of war were released and repatriated.

Almost one million Australians served in World War II: about 40,000 of them had died and many thousands more were wounded or injured in the course of their military service. With the war's end hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women had to adjust to life as civilians. The women who had played such a vital role during wartime were now expected to return to their homes to become wives and mothers again. For many Australians, the years ahead would be challenging.

 

 

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Lawrence Saywell
[AWM P02551]
Death on VE Day
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Czech Military Cross.
[AWM32261]
Private Lawrence Saywell died on 8 May 1945, the last Australian to die in the war in Europe. Captured in Crete in 1941, he escaped from a prisoner of war camp in Bohemia in January 1945 and joined a Czech resistance group. Saywell fought with the partisans against the Germans for four months but on the day the war ended, he was shot and badly wounded by a retreating German soldier near the village of Miretin (now in the Czech republic). He died of his wounds. Saywell was awarded the Czech Military Cross, which is now in the Australian War Memorial collection.

 

 

Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
VP Day, Canberra, Harold Abbot, 1945.
[Oil on canvas on board 45.4 x 60.8 cm, AWM ART22923]
Prime Minister John Curtin did not survive until the end of the war with Japan. He battled ill health during the war years and died on 5 July 1945. Treasurer Ben Chifley became the new Prime Minister of Australia after John Curtinís death and remained in office until the defeat of the Australain Labor Party at the federal election of 10 December 1949.
[NAA A1200, L26035]