2020 – A year for remembering

Anita Jaensch 23 October 2020
  • History & commemoration

Remembrance Day is particularly poignant this year, as 2020 marked significant anniversaries from several different conflicts.

When we pause for a minute’s silent reflection on Remembrance Day, many of us will think of family members or friends who have served in the conflicts of the past century.

But you might also spare a moment to think of those involved in the conflicts which had significant anniversaries this year:

The end of World War II – 75 years

After almost six years of war, the conflict in Europe came to an end with Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.

For Australia, however, the war was not over. It would another three months before Japan surrendered on 15 August.

Almost a million Australian men and women served their country during World War II, fighting in Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, south east Asia and across the Pacific. Some 30,000 were taken prisoner during the conflict, and more than 39,000 lost their lives.

The Australian mainland also came under direct attack from the Japanese. Several towns in northern Australia – including Darwin, Townsville, Broome and Katherine – were bombed, and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbour.

How did Queenslanders celebrate the end of World War II?

The beginning of the Korean War – 70 years

On 25 June 1950, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Army marched into the Republic of Korea and began what would become known as the Korean War.

Over 17,000 Australians fought in this conflict and some 339 died.

Read about a mother’s journey to find her son’s final resting place

Battle of Shah Wali Kot – 10 years

On 10 June 2010, Australian special forces troops were part of a joint offensive with the Afghan Special Police, which aimed to disrupt the Taliban’s influence in Kandahar City.

The Battle of Shah Wali Kot raged for five days. When the dust settled, as many as 100 insurgents were believed to have been killed. There were no civilian casualties and just one Australian soldier was wounded. 

Learn more

Battle of Derapet – 10 years

On the morning of 24 August 2010, 20 Australian soldiers and the Afghan National Army (ANA) members they were mentoring approached the village of Derapet in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan Province. A previous patrol had encountered Taliban fighters there days earlier, so the soldiers knew there was potential for contact.

What followed was one of the largest engagements of Australian regular forces since the Vietnam War. Over four hours, the patrol engaged some 100 Taliban before breaking contact and returning to a nearby patrol base – but not before one Australian soldier lost his life. 

Read a personal account of the battle