Annual ex-Prisoner of War Memorial Service in Kings Park

The memorial service conducted by the Mount Lawley Senior High School was held at the Ex-POW Memorial, May Drive, Kings Park on Friday 5th May 2017 at 1:00pm.
In 1997 the students of Mount Lawley Senior High School adopted the Ex-Prisoners of War Association's Memorial, Kings Park. This ceremony is held as an annual commemorative service. 2017 was the 21st year Mount Lawley Senior High School has been involved with the service.
As in previous years the Principal, staff and students from Mount Lawley Senior High School assisted to conduct the service and provide the band, choir, bugler and logistic support for the event. Many Ex-Prisoner of War Association members attended to pay their respects as well as a large group of invited guests including surviving veterans and representatives of kindred associations.
Afternoon tea was provided and the weather was fine, a beautiful sunny day. The Mount Lawley Senior High School band and choir entertained guests prior to the ceremony and in the course of the ceremony hymns and the Australian song were presented by the school. Surviving ex-prisoners of war present were Association President Arthur Leggett with John Gilmour and Syd Shaw.

Eric Wilson, David Piesse and Peter Winstanly of the BTRMA attended. The number of veterans left is rapidly thinning and it was stressed that we need to ensure we remember those no longer with us.

In this regard, the following is an abridged version of an article from The Australian newspaper:

"They're fading away before our eyes, these proud old men who gave so much for Australia. Fewer than 200 of them are left and one sad day soon there will be none at all. Some still can't bring themselves to speak about what happened after they became prisoners of the Japanese or Germans in World War II to forge a very different Anzac legend to that of Gallipoli.
Their war turned into an elemental struggle against starvation, disease and brutality on the Burma railway and in slave labour camps under the Japanese, or to survive the death throes of a blood-soaked Nazi Reich.
But the underpinnings were the same: mateship, sacrifice, endurance. Time, though, waits for no one and new government figures show that only 195 of the 32,000 Australian military personnel taken prisoner in World War II - including 61 female army nurses - were living in January, with an average age of 94.
That number will have slipped further in the lead-up to ANZAC Day. The fade out of Australia's World War II paws points poignantly to how close we are to losing the last living links to the great generation that waged that seismic conflict. Veteran numbers are in freefall. Of the 990,000 Australians who joined up between 1939 and 1945, only 19,600 remain of those who saw active war service, according to the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
About 7500 died in the 12 months to June 30 last year, though this included spouses.With an average age of 93 for the surviving World War II vets, the DVA's demographic modelling assumes an annual attrition rate of 5000 through this decade.
By 2020, there will be achingly few still with us. The ex-POWs are generally older because most were captured early in the war in the disasters in Greece and Crete at the hands of the Germans, and in the dark days of 1942, after Japanese forces seized Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, the then Dutch East Indies, the Philippines and menaced Australia from New Guinea and at sea”.

Mount Lawley Senior High School have travelled on Quiet Lion Tours to Thailand for some years with generous support by the Ex-Prisoners of War Association, the school, parents and the Burma Thailand Memorial Association.
The following students have toured: Olivia Williams, Clancy Davidson, Cale Wilcox, Nicola Bower, Johanna Battista, Monroe Massa, Alex Scudder, Emma Bromham, Andrea Leonard, Nicolas Hortense, Kate Prast and Emma Giuffre.

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