Senate debates

Tuesday, 23 February 2021


Fall of Singapore: 79th Anniversary

8:21 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak about an event I attended on 14 February 2021, which was the commemoration of the 79th anniversary of the fall of Singapore during the Second World War. The commemoration was held at the Brisbane Shrine of Remembrance and was hosted by the 2/10th Field Regiment Association.

I'd like to thank the organisers of the event—in particular, the association and its committee, led by Ms Libby Parkinson, OAM, who has organised the annual service for the past 17 years. I'd like to especially thank Mrs Wendy Drysdale, OAM, who is known very well to my friend Senator James McGrath, who's here. He delivered a speech at the event this year that was very noble and moving. Mrs Wendy Drysdale has been in hospital. She's not well, and she helped organise this commemoration from her hospital bed. I think that's such a wonderful example of service to the community that we can all deeply respect. I can also acknowledge that it is a bit of a family affair. Mrs Wendy Drysdale's husband, Mr Jeff Drysdale, also assists as does their daughter Mrs Lizzie Drysdale-Gardiner and her husband, Mr Jason Gardiner.

I'd also like to thank Sergeant Major Brian Moore, who assisted with the catafalque party. I'd like to acknowledge the Hon. Jane Prentice—some people here would know her quite well—who served constituents in the seat of Ryan with great distinction for many years and who was also in attendance. I often say that those members who keep attending community events and giving to the community should be acknowledged. It's a sign that they served in this place with the right intent: to help the community. I'd also acknowledge Councillor Angela Owen, of the Salvation Army band, who was in attendance, the police, the QAS and everyone else.

The 2/10th lost something like a third of its contingent during the course of imprisonment under the Japanese. There's one story in particular that I'd like to share, which, after I first attended this event, I've carried with me always. That is the story of Dr Dominic Picone. Dr Picone had been a registrar at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. He'd also practised as a GP at Cooroy. He was one of the three Australian medical officers who remained with the 2,400 Australian and British POWs at Sandakan. Mr Acting Deputy President, you would have heard—everyone here would have heard—of the Sandakan death marches. Dr Picone and 14 other POWs were executed by the Japanese on 27 August 1945. The war ended on 15 August 1945. Dr Picone and the 14 other POWs were executed by their captors 12 days after the end of the war so they could not give witness to the atrocities they had seen. I'd like to end this contribution this evening with the dedication that appears on the plaque honouring the 2/10th Field Regiment at the Australian War Memorial:

One great benefit to those of us who have survived is the tremendous feeling of comradeship or mateship that exists between us and our families. On our banner of honour, preceding the names of our comrades who were lost in battle, are the words: 'To live on in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.'