Last veteran of battle

Battle of Milne Bay veteran Edgar McCulloch, right, with his daughter and son-in-law, Marion and Graham Reid.
Battle of Milne Bay veteran Edgar McCulloch, right, with his daughter and son-in-law, Marion and Graham Reid. Contributed

ONE of the most significant battles affecting Australia during the Second World War will be commemorated in Warwick at 11am on Sunday, September 2.

The Battle of Milne Bay on the far east coast of Papua New Guinea took place 70 years ago in August and September of that year and was the first time the Japanese Army was defeated on land during the Second World War at a time and place of their own choosing.

The Warwick RSL Sub-branch will conduct a commemoration service at the Cenotaph followed by a special luncheon at the RSL Memorial Club afterwards.

Special guest at the luncheon will be the only known remaining Warwick veteran of the battle, Edgar McCulloch.

Mr McCulloch was a warrant officer in the RAAF and served with the Kittyhawk-flying 75 Squadron at Milne Bay.

The 25th Battalion, now 25/49 RQR, will be heavily involved in the commemoration service, providing a Catafalque Party at the Cenotaph, a flag orderly and also a guest speaker at the luncheon.

Both functions will be open to the public and descendants of Milne Bay veterans in particular are invited to attend.

This particular battle was significant for Warwick for several reasons.

Firstly, the 25th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, known as the Darling Downs Battalion, was raised primarily from the Warwick and the Southern Downs area, and was heavily involved in the battle.

Secondly, the commander of Milne Force, Lieutenant General Cyril Clowes, CBE, DSO, MC, MID, was born, raised and educated in Warwick before finishing his schooling in Toowoomba.

And lastly, five Warwick men died during the battle - AW Harkiss, WJ Hendry, JE Muir, IF Stockwell and JD Thompson.

A sandstone memorial commemorating the Battle of Milne Bay, the men killed in the battle and Lt General Clowes' leadership was unveiled next to the Warwick Cenotaph a few years ago.

The Battle of Milne Bay was the beginning of the end for the Japanese in the Second World War.

For more information on the event phone 4661 5700.

Topics:  battle of milne bay second world war

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