Text by James Bowen
Convener, Government, Education & International Liaison
Battle for Australia Commemoration Committee (Victoria)

Author's Note:

This Order of Service for the first commemoration of the Battle for Australia held at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, was drafted to reflect three major themes for commemoration of a Battle for Australia that were approved by the Returned and Services League of Australia at its National Congress in 1998:

1. according national honour and commemoration each year in the first week of the month of September to the Australians who courageously resisted and ultimately repulsed the Japanese attack on Australia in 1942 in what can fairly be described as the Battle for Australia;

2. the education of children to appreciate, honour, and learn from the heroism, sacrifice and service of those who fought in 1942-43 to defend Australia from invasion and to expel Japanese troops from Australian soil; and

3. to build goodwill between the people of Australia and the people of other countries, and in particular, the people of Papua New Guinea and the United States of America.

This Order of Service was drafted by me to accommodate an attendance estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000, of whom at least 800 were schoolchildren. Representatives of the governments of the United States and Papua New Guinea were invited, and attended. This first commemoration focused on the navy as the senior service. The next would focus on the army, and after that, the air force. I drafted this Order of Service as being appropriate for a capital city, and expected it to be adapted as necessary when held in smaller cities and towns. I regret now that I did not realize the extent of the Dutch contribution to the defence of Australia between 1942 and 1945. Whenever practical, I feel that a Dutch representative should be invited to participate in the commemoration.

10.30   Schools assemble at designated positions on lawns surrounding the Forecourt of the Shrine of Remembrance.

10.40   Shrine Guard takes Post.  Flags of Australia, the United States of America, and Papua New Guinea, lowered to half mast by Shrine Guards.

10.45   MacRobertson Girls’ High School Choir assembles on steps of the Forecourt.  Units and representatives assemble on northern forecourt of the Shrine with the Band of the Royal Australian Navy.

10.50   The Parade (Units and representatives) proceed up the forecourt, halting opposite the Cenotaph.  The Band members take seats and play selection of tunes.

10.55   The Guard of Honour marches on.

10.58   Alert sounded by the Band as the Governor approaches. The Assembly stands      

Arrival of His Excellency, the Honourable Sir James Gobbo , AC, Governor of Victoria and Lady Gobbo.

Vice Regal Salute (played by the Band)

The Governor inspects Guard of Honour accompanied by Master of Ceremonies, Wing Commander Yardley, Chairman of the Battle for Australia Commemoration Committee (Victoria). Assembly seated

The Governor completes inspection. The Master of Ceremonies moves to the rostrum to welcome those assembled and begin the ceremony with the “Declaration of Purpose”.                                            


We are assembled here in the presence of Almighty God to remember before Him with thanksgiving the Honoured Dead, who gave up their lives for their country.

The Master of Ceremonies announces the hymn “God is our Strength and Refuge”. Assembly stands
HYMN - God is our Strength and Refuge         
(accompanied by the Band & Choir and sung to The Dambusters' March by Eric Coates)

1. God is our strength and refuge,
our present help in trouble;
and we therefore will not fear,
though the earth should change!
Though mountains shake and tremble,
though swirling floods are raging,
God the Lord of hosts is with us

2. There is a flowing river,
within God's holy city:
God is in the midst of her -
she shall not be moved!
God's help is swiftly given,
thrones vanish at His presence -
God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

3. Come, see the works of our Maker,
learn of His deeds all-powerful;
wars will cease across the world
when He shatters the spear!
Be still and know your Creator,
uplift Him in the nations -
God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

The Master of Ceremonies invites the Governor to address the assembly. Assembly sits


The Master of Ceremonies announces “The Naval Hymn”. Assembly stands

THE NAVAL HYMN       (accompanied by the Band & Choir)          

1. Eternal Father, strong to save,
whose arm has bound the restless wave,
who bidst the mighty ocean deep
its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.

2. 0 Christ, whose voice the waters heard
and hushed their raging at thy word,
who walkedst on the foaming deep,
and calm amid the storm didst keep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.

3. 0 Holy Spirit, who didst brood
upon the waters dark and rude,
and bid their angry tumult cease,
and give for wild confusion, peace:
O hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.

4. 0 Trinity of love and power,
our people shield in danger's hour
from rock and tempest, fire and foe,
guard them wherever they may go:
thus evermore shall rise to thee
glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

The Master of Ceremonies announces that the Historical Address will be given by Commodore Dacre Smyth, AO who served in HMAS Australia at the Battle of the Coral Sea, 1942. Assembly sits


The Master of Ceremonies invites the Chaplain to take his place at the rostrum.  The Chaplain announces the Reading.

THE READING:  From the Gospel according to St John, Chapter 15, verses 9-17.

The Chaplain says:

Let us remember before God, and commend to His sure keeping:
those who have died for their country in war;
those whom we know, and whose memory we treasure,
and all who have lived and died in the service of mankind.
We remember especially those who fought in the Battle for Australia,
and we give thanks for their courage, their devotion to duty, and their
sacrifice of life itself, so that our nation may live in peace and in freedom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.                All say: Amen  

The Chaplain announces the Lord’s Prayer.  Assembly stands


Our Father which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, Amen. Assembly sits

The Master of Ceremonies will read the poem “This Hour is Their’s”.


The Master of Ceremonies announces that His Excellency the Honourable Sir James Gobbo AC, Governor of Victoria, will lay the first floral tribute on the Cenotaph. Official tributes and tributes from ex-service organisations will follow.

Laying of Wreaths                   Piper plays Lament

Symbolising the passing of the Spirit of ANZAC to young Australians, Commodore Dacre Smyth, AO and Marnie Davis, School Captain of MacRobertson Girls’ High School, together lay roses on Cenotaph.

Young Australians from Melbourne schools will then lay their roses.

Laying of Roses                     Piper plays Lament

Bugler sounds “G” at conclusion of wreath and rose laying.

Master of Ceremonies announces that “The Ode of Remembrance ” will be recited by Commodore Dacre Smyth, AO and Marnie Davis, a student of MacRobertson Girls’ High School. Assembly stands

ODE OF REMEMBRANCE  by Laurence Binyon

The student says:

They went with songs to battle.
They were young, straight of limb,
true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end
against odds uncounted,
they fell with their faces to the foe.

Commodore Dacre Smyth, AO says:

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,                            
We will remember them.

The Assembly responds:  We will remember them.        

Bugler sounds  “Last Post”.

One minutes Silence.

Bugler sounds  “Rouse”.

The Master of Ceremonies says: Lest we forget.                             

The Assembly responds:  Lest we forget.

The Master of Ceremonies announces the National Anthems.

THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS   (accompanied by the Band & Choir) Assembly standing

The National Anthem of  Papua New Guinea:  O Arise all you sons

O arise all you sons of this land
Let us sing of our joy to be free,
Praising God and rejoicing to be
Papua New Guinea.

Shout our name from the mountains to seas
Papua New Guinea;
Let us raise our voices and proclaim
Papua New Guinea.

The National Anthem of the United States of America:  The Star-Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The National Anthem of Australian:   Advance Australia Fair

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free:
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare:
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia Fair.


Departure of His Excellency the Governor.  Vice Regal Salute.  (played by the band)

Guard and Band march off.