Epping RSL sub-Branch President’s Message August-September 2018
15th August each year we pause to commemorate the Victory in the Pacific (VP Day), of that day in 1945 when the guns fell silent and the hostilities in the Pacific Region ceased and marked the end of World War 2. That memorable day when peoples of the free world knew that peace could now return to their lives; that day when Australians danced in the street for the threats to our peace had been eliminated and that there would be no more needless killing and the sacrificing of young Australian lives in battles close to our shores.
At the out break of war in 1939 and perhaps with a perception that this War was confined to the northern hemisphere and on the other side of the world and was not an imminent threat to our nation, Australia like other Commonwealth nations sent a great proportion of their defence forces and military assets to the conflicts in Europe to defend the peace and the prospect of an annihilation of innocent citizens.
Two years later in December 1941 with Japan’s unprovoked attack on the USA at Pearl Harbour the war in the Pacific had commenced and by Feb 1942 following the Japanese attack on the City of Darwin, Australia’s peace had been shattered and now our nation was under threat of invasion and we would now be in the front line of the conflict.
Now,73 years later and several generations of living and working with the many nations sited within the Pacific Region and being respectful of those nations individual values coupled with decades of extensive trading arrangements and with international cooperation we have been part a peaceful region. Today as we commemorate VP Day, the ending of a dark time in our nation’s history, perhaps we should also be calling it Peace in the Pacific Day.
The South West Region of the Pacific Ocean is a very large area of the earth’s surface which is surrounded by many nations and sovereign interests and with which our nation shares aspects of mutual national security. Despite all such attitudes of peaceful business, there is on the horizon aspects of individual national policy that can create and is creating a threat to such stability of the peace.
The ongoing territorial dispute between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam over a group of reefs, banks and cays known as the Spratly Island Group has the potential to severely undermine the peace in the Pacific that we know today. China’s extension to such unlawful occupation by reclamation of these small land masses and the installation of heavy fortification has raised significant warnings to our regional peace.
The juxtaposition of these fortifications to the normal shipping channels between Australia and its many trading partners in the South West Pacific poses a future concern to our Country and its dependence on a free passage of vital supplies for our domestic consumption.
This current activities of China’s fortification of the Spratly Islands group has overtones of that time following World War 1, when Japan seized many of the islands in the Pacific which were part of the German Empire and which were to become fortification from which Japan launched many attacks on nearby countries within the South West Pacific in 1940 to 1945.
The questions we must ask is what of tomorrows peaceful conditions, the RSL motto the price of liberty is eternal vigilance should be a timely call to all Australians. The price of peace can become enormous and severely affect the future generations of Australians. VP day should become Peace in the Pacific Day
John K Curdie OAM