US Navy, RAN Commemorate Coral Sea Battle’s 70th Anniversary
The rain held back as the sun shined, while the US Navy Band played ’Waltzing Matilda’ to a captive audience outside the US Navy Memorial in Washington DC. Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, both US Navy and Royal Australian Navy forces were well represented at the ceremony.
The Battle of the Coral Sea saw US and Australian units join forces to make a stand against the Japanese advance on Port Moresby. The ensuing battle in early May saw a tactical Japanese victory, but a strategic win by the allies as the Japanese were forced to attack Port Moresby by land, over the treacherous Kokoda trail.
The ANF, side by side with the Star Spangled Banner, provided a stark reminder of the two countries allegiances in tough times, as the last post was sounded by attending members of the Royal Australian Band. The ceremony proved unique opportunity to remember the sacrifices by both Navies during the battle of the Coral Sea.
Later in the evening, the Naval Attaché to the United States, CDRE Stephen Woodall, CSC RAN hosted a celebration of the US – Australia alliance, with RAN and USN personnel entertained by members of the RAN Band. CDRE Woodall set the scene for the evening’s celebrations, “The action undertook by the two navies represents the beginning of an alliance that endures to this day.”
The USN’s Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, amplified these remarks, “Australia is the only country that has stood by the US in every conflict since World War One.”
The Australian Ambassador, the Honourable Kim Beazley also highlighted the alliance between the two countries, “That the battle took place at all speaks volumes for the courage of the American leadership.”
The Battle of the Coral Sea represents the furthest penetration south of the Japanese Imperial Forces, and had the Japanese successfully completed Australia’s isolation from the United States, it is likely that the Australia would have either been forced out of the war or simply rendered irrelevant.
Naval Today Staff , May 23, 2012; Image: Royal Australian Navy