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Memorial Day in Australia - 2005

On Memorial Day weekend, 2005, Australian submariner Peter O'Donohue attended a truly inspiring tribute to US submariners who served on his continent.

The inspiration for this page is all Peter O'Donohue (aka POD on the various submarine BBS's and to his mates).  It all started with a message to me that began:

"Don, last weekend I had the privilege of attending a Memorial Day Ceremony for US submariners lost during WWII, about 450 Km South of Perth in Albany Western Australia. Apparently this ceremony has been happening for some years, unfortunately it has been a fairly well kept secret, however a bunch of us both British and Australian Ex Submariners made this one and intend to take up the slack and ensure it becomes a fixture on our calendar to ensure that when the intrepid few (two) who remain are gone they and those who went before are not forgotten.

Could you please post a short story and a selection of photo's I will send you as I think it should be of interest to ... "

POD sent the following short on last year's (2004) proceedings:

Albany Remembrance Service During WW II, Submarines of the United States Navy and the support ship USS Holland were based in Princess Royal Harbour in Albany, WA. Annually, for over twenty years members of the US SUBVETS who married Australian ladies and returned to live in WA have commemorated that service with a Memorial Service for those "Still On Patrol". A stone and bronze memorial, originally consecrated in Lawley Park was relocated some years ago to the Princess Royal Fortress where the American Signal Lookout was reconstructed overlooking the harbour entrance.

The numbers of surviving veterans has slowly dwindled over the years with only three still alive. The Association is kept alive by one of the widows, Kath Pouleris and in conjunction with the City Of Albany she co-ordinates the annual event. Two Australian Honorary SUBVETS, who were rescued by US submarines, Arthur Bancroft and Phil Bielby regularly attend also. Mr Homer White BEM who was a periscope technician in USS Holland and returned to live in Albany continues to take part.

The sole surviving US WWII veteran living in Western Australia Carl Uphoff (tolling the bell). Arthur Bancroft (reading the names of lost boats) is Australian and an Honorary member of Subvets, his relationship is due to being torpedoed and rescued by the submarine USS Queenfish SS 393 in 1944 whilst a prisoner of the Japanese (a survivor from HMAS PERTH which was sunk in company with USS Huston early in 1942 in the Sunda Strait)

(click on all photos for larger size)

Peter continued by saying that it was a "very moving ceremony done with much dignity and emotion by these gentlemen."  Here are more photos and text on the event:

Peter: "Carl Uphoff talking to Jack Wong Sue (Z Force) and a photo of Jack, two Bona Fide heroes."

Peter: "These two photo's are the "Bloody Poms" ex RN Submariners (seated, right photo) and the young "Bloody Good Looking Aussie ex Submariners" the handsome young one on the right is me (left photo)."

Peter: "Arthur Bancroft and his Good Lady Mirla, both wonderful, humble people and Arthur, Mirla and Fred Lawrence President of the Western Australian Branch of Submarines Association Australia."

Peter: "This is the recently promoted Commander Doug Sampson who is attached to the Submarine Force Element Group (SMFEG) on exchange. He was at sea on HMAS DECHAINUEX that morning before a boat transfer and 4 hours on planes to make this engagement, was a bit rushed as can be seen by his ribbons on the right breast. He spoke very well and really made our two Veteran's days. His last assignment prior this was XO USS Pasadena."

Peter: "These two are the remaining contingent of the US Submarine WWII Veterans in Western Australia from left Carl Uphoff, Arthur Bancroft, Mirla Bancroft and Kath Pouleris who's late husband was captured by her during the war, she is one Dynamic woman and the Major reason interest in and such a fine tribute to the fallen is a happening thing. She ran the poor lass organizing the day ragged. Unfortunately Homer White a long time and dedicated member of this intrepid little gang "Crossed the Bar" and proceeded on Final Patrol in June of 2004. The other is the Flags, couldn't get the Bloody Wind to blow when needed."

Peter: "Captain Mark Sanders (3 Submarine drives to his credit) and Sid Czabotar (my Electrical Officer HMAS ONSLOW 1984 -1986) both gentlemen of the highest order. The Memorial and the Bell."

Peter: "Carl Uphoff, Kath Pouleris and June Hodgson who is Kaths Sister in Law and a former Mayor of Albany who was instrumental in the Memorial and it's continued recognition.  Arthur Bancroft."

Peter: "This is a replica (left photo) of the Old Signal Station and lookout overlooking the Channel between Princess Royal Harbour (the town of Albany and the Sub Base) and King George Sound which opens into the Southern Ocean. This Station was manned by US sailors in the early days of the war and later by Australian sailors. The Channel (right photo) between Princess Royal Harbour and the Town of Albany (to the right) and King George Sound and the Southern Ocean. (to the left)

A brief history of Fremantle and Albany can be found at http://www.subvetpaul.com/TheFremantle.htm"

Peter ended his final email to me on this story by saying, "Please add an invite to any who may want to travel to the remotest Capital City in the World (Perth) to join us for a Memorial Day or any other day for that matter, I can guarantee accommodation, transport and a bloody good time when you get here."

Thanks to Peter "POD" O'Donohue for the story and photos.  The incredibly supportive relationship between Australian government and citizens, and the US Submariners during World War II is the stuff of legend.  I appreciate this article for its historical significance but mostly for the continued acknowledgement of the efforts of the US WWII submarine veterans by the citizens and submarine veterans of Oz - thank you Australia!

Other References:

[published June 2005 on SubmarineSailor.Com]