Battle of the Coral Sea commemorated aboard HMAS Choules

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Representatives from Australia, U.S. and Japan commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea aboard Australian Navy amphibious ship HMAS Choules which positioned herself in the waters of the conflict off Townsville on May 1.

The ship’s company and embarked forces took a break from exercising off the Queensland coast for a solemn commemoration of the Second World War battle, that claimed the lives of more than 1,500 men and numerous ships.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, hosted an international delegation of dignitaries on board for a service on the flight deck of the 16,000 tonne warship.

The battle occurred between 4–8 May 1942, and is often referred to as ‘The Battle for Australia’, not only because it set the scene for the Allied naval victory at the Battle of Midway late in June that year, but more importantly saw the defeat of the amphibious force that was destined to capture Port Moresby.

As a result, Japanese forces commenced their land campaign across the rugged Owen Stanley ranges which later became famous, as the Kokoda track campaign.

Vice Admiral Barrett said marking the sacrifices made was a poignant reminder of how close the war in the Pacific came to the shores of Australia.

“This was a significant battle not only strategically for Australia but also for modern naval warfare as neither surface fleet actually sighted each other and the engagement was conducted with aircraft organic to each task group,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.

“It set the stage for over 40 US and Australian amphibious operations as part of the Pacific campaign and became the basis for our current joint and combined operational doctrine that we use today.”

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