Australian Navy Remembers Battle of Coral Sea
The Royal Australian Navy joined the Australian American Association (Canberra Division) in marking the 71st anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian American Memorial in Russell, ACT, yesterday. The ceremony featured a flypast by three RAN helicopters from Naval Air Station HMAS Albatross.
Along with members of the RAN and Australian American Association, the ceremony was attended by representatives of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Army, as well as members of the United States armed forces, the US Ambassador to Australia, Mr Jeffrey Bleich, representing US President Barrack Obama, and the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, representing the Prime Minister of Australia.
The Battle of the Coral Sea was fought during World War II from May 4-8, 1942, and was the first in history in which aircraft carriers directly engaged each other, and was the first action in which neither side’s ships fired on each other or even sighted each other, with the outcome being decided by carrier-born aircraft. The flypast at today’s ceremony was to pay tribute to the battle that played out in the air during the conflict.
The battle was also significant because it was the first major engagement in which US and Australian forces fought alongside each other. Some historians see it as the catalyst for the ANZUS treaty, which binds the two countries together to this day.
While taking heavy casualties, the allies succeeding in stemming what, until then, had seemed an unstoppable Japanese advance. The threat to Australia was not removed, but the tide of war in the Pacific had turned.
Messages of remembrance from both President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were read during yesterday’s ceremony.
Press Release, May 10, 2013; Image: Australian Navy