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War in the Pacific
Referring to Neville Rutledge’s let-
ter published in the Spring 2017
edition of Vetaffairs, the history of
the Battle of the Coral Sea is spe-
cifically detailed in my website
I am the last Coastwatcher (aged
94) left to tell the story, and I want
all Australians (and particularly
your readers) to be proud of the
fact that the Coastwatchers had a
key role in preventing the Japanese
from taking over Port Moresby,
which would provide them with
the open ‘door’ to Australia!
It also covers the role of the
Coastwatchers for Guadalcanal
when the US Admiral Bull Halsey
declared that ‘the Coastwatchers
saved Guadalcanal and Guadalca-
nal saved the Pacific War’.
Jim Burrowes OAM
Ex Sgt James Burrowes – Signaller –
M Special Unit (Coastwatchers )
I am responding to substantiate the
letter from Neville Rutledge pub-
lished in the Spring 2017 edition of
W/O Paul Benjamin, my late hus-
band, was the wireless air-gunner in
W/C Geoff Nicoll’s crew of 8 Squad-
ron. This squadron carried out the
raid on the Japanese fleet in Rabaul
Harbour. A naval patrol advised
against this raid, saying it would be
a ‘suicide mission’. W/C Nicoll called
for volunteers from the squadron
and naturally all answered the call.
This attack was carried out from
their base on Goodenough Island
2 — Vetaffairs Summer 2017
and was highly successful, sink-
ing a tanker and causing damage
to many other ships. This attack
caught the Japanese by surprise
with the first swoop of 8 Squad-
ron coming through almost
unscathed. Unfortunately, two
planes were lost in the second
swoop and several damaged.
It was this attack by 8 Squad-
ron that stopped the advance of
the Japanese down the Austral-
ian coastline and was a turning
point in the war.
Neville Rutledge’s letter in the
Spring edition of Vetaffairs urges
Australians to develop their
knowledge of the Pacific War as
it affected Australia.
I would add that very few
Australians know of our
involvement in the Battle of
Guadalcanal and how it greatly
affected events in the New
Marking the entry of the
United States into the Pacific
War, the Battle of Guadalcanal
is not widely commemorated in
Australia, but nevertheless, Aus-
tralians fought and died there.
Guadalcanal was the begin-
ning of the end of Japan’s
military ambitions in our region,
and after six months of bitter
fighting on what became known
to the Japanese as ‘the island of
death’, it was the outcome of the
Battle of Guadalcanal that saved
(Son of Lt John Mackie, 1st Independ-
ent Company AIF, Bougainville, April
Thank you to correspondents
who noted a discrepancy in the
sequencing of events as set
out in the letter published in
the Spring edition referred to
above. The Battle of Milne Bay
was fought during late August
and early September 1942.
The Battle of the Bismarck Sea
did not precede the Milne Bay
battle, but took place in early
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In either case, you can also phone 1800 555 254
NOTE TO INDIGENOUS READERS
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that material on page 10 contains
the name and an image of an Indigenous Australian who has died.
DVA SERVICES OVER CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR
DVA will provide
reduced services over the
Christmas–New Year period
from 5:00 pm Friday, 22
December 2017, resuming
full services at 9:00 am
Tuesday, 2 January 2018.
Veterans and their families
can continue to access
critical DVA services (see
list at right). Pension
paydays will not be
affected and the Veterans
and Veterans Families
Counselling Service (VVCS)
will be available by phone
throughout the period,
though VVCS centres and
Veterans’ Access Networks
(VAN) offices will be closed.
As we approach the end of 2017,
it is important to reflect on the
work of the Department. Out-
comes from the first half of
this year have been captured
in the 2016–17 Annual Report,
which was tabled at Parliament
House on 31 October 2017. If
you would like to view a copy
of the report, please visit our
website at www.dva.gov.au.
INQUIRY INTO VETERAN SUICIDE
On 15 August 2017, the Sen-
ate Standing Committee on
Foreign Affairs, Defence and
Trade published its report
into suicide by veterans and
ex-service personnel. The Gov-
ernment tabled its response
on 24 October 2017 and agreed
to 22 of the 24 recommenda-
tions with the remaining two
in-principle. The Department
acknowledges the hard work
of the committee in prepar-
ing this report and notes that
the implementation of the
recommendations will allow
it to better fulfil its mission
to support those who serve
and who have served in Aus-
tralia’s military forces.
Simon Lewis, PSM
Secretary Department of Veterans’ Affairs
DVA TRANSFORMATION UPDATE
Veteran Centric Reform has
given the Department the
momentum required to accel-
erate transformation, and
is now beginning to deliver
early benefits for veterans,
their families and DVA staff.
The MyService application
our digital front door for
MRCA initial liability clients
has already been accessed
by hundreds of veterans who
are benefiting from its time-
saving capabilities. Early
trials of this new, streamlined
claims process have enabled a
quicker time for completion
and lodgement, and show
the potential to significantly
reduce processing times,
enhancing veteran services
and dramatically improving
the claiming experience.
By working with veter-
ans, veteran communities,
advocate groups and other
government agencies, we can
ensure DVA transformation
outcomes are meeting our
ultimate objective – to better
support veterans and their
families to live healthy and
Vetaffairs is published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
as a free newspaper for Australia’s veteran community.
Editor Charlotte Harper
mail GPO Box 9998 Brisbane, QLD 4001
Vetaffairs uses Google’s URL Shortener to make some long website addresses
more manageable. The shortened links (eg goog.gl.RMUeUG) are case sensitive.
• COUNSELLING – VVCS offers free and confidential, nation-wide counselling and sup-
port for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families.
This service is available 24/7 and toll free on 1800 011 046.
• TRANSPORT – If transport is required for medical treatment please note that:
• Transport requests will be processed as usual from 27 to 29 December inclusive –
please call 1800 550 455.
• Otherwise, please pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement from DVA
when offices re-open.
• Alternatively, if you are a registered MyAccount user, transport can be booked and
modified, and travel expenses lodged online, through MyAccount – DVA’s online services
portal at https://myaccount.dva.gov.au. You can arrange MyAccount registration prior to the
Christmas / New Year period by phoning DVA on 1800 555 254.
• HOSPITAL ADMISSION – Doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request
retrospective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA resumes full
• PHARMACEUTICAL APPROVALS – Providers seeking prior approval for pharma-
ceuticals can call the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre (VAPAC)
24 hours a day on 1800 552 580.
• DEFENCE SERVICE HOMES INSURANCE – Help with policy and claim enquiries is
available 24 hours a day on 1300 552 662, and payments can be made on 1300 304 989
for the cost of a local call.
Visit www.dva.gov.au for general information about
DVA services and entitlements.
The latter part of the year has seen
a continuation of the Anzac Cente-
nary involving Australians on the
Western Front and over the course
of the First World War. The Depart-
ment has had the privilege and
responsibility of running a number
of recent events to mark the Cente-
nary, including the commemorative
services for the Battle of Polygon
Wood in Belgium, and the Battle of
Beersheba in Be’er Sheva, Israel.
A number of events were also held
to commemorate the 75th anniver-
saries of major battles of the Second
World War, such as the Battle of El
Alamein in North Africa and the
Kokoda and Beachheads campaigns.
It was a privilege to hear the stories
of the veterans who attended these
events and share the experience of
the commemorations with them.
As the Department continues its
transformation, it is essential that
these stories and experiences, and
the stories and experiences of all
ADF members and veterans, inform
the Department as it supports its
clients on behalf of the Australian
Finally, I would like to wish all
members of the veteran and ex-ser -
vice community and their families
a very happy and safe festive season
and new year.
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