IN the early hours of Friday morning, Prime Minister, the Honourable Manasseh Sogavare joined Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Roderick Brazier at a memorial service to mark the 77th anniversary of the sinking of the first HMAS Canberra.
The HMAS Canberra remains the largest Australian warship ever lost in battle.
The service, held at Rove Police Memorial Park, was attended by representatives from the Solomon Islands government, diplomatic corps, Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police, and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. Australian and Solomon Islands’ friends and family also attended.
The HMAS Canberra had been playing a vital role supporting the landing operations of US marines at Guadalcanal, when she was struck in a surprise attack by a strong Japanese naval force in the early hours of 9 August 1942, in what has become known as the Battle of Savo Island.
The Canberra was hit 24 times in less than two minutes and 84 Australians, including the ship’s Captain, Frank Getting, died in the attack. Following an order to abandon ship, the Canberra was scuttled the next day by a torpedo from a US destroyer. The Canberra now rests in Iron Bottom Sound, 25 kilometres offshore from Honiara.
High Commissioner Brazier said Australia and its navy will forever remember the Battle of Savo and HMAS Canberra.
“The stories from the bridge, the engine room, and the gun deck make us proud,” he said.
“We, Australians in Honiara, have the privilege to be a kind of guardian to Canberra’s legacy.”
Lest We Forget.