As roosters crowed, Australians and New Zealanders gathered in Jakarta for an Anzac Day dawn service to commemorate past and present serviceman, including those who died on Indonesia’s shores.
Surrounded by the graves of many who died in defence of Java and Sumatra during the Japanese advance in 1942, current servicemen and other Australians remembered on Monday those who had been killed and changed by their experiences of war.
“It’s a sad fact of history that in too many years you can find an action or battle that has cost servicemen and women and their families greatly,” Australian Ambassador Paul Grigson said.
This year is no different, he added, pointing to the 100th anniversary of the battle of Fromelles in France.
“It was the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front … it saw inexperienced Australian troops deployed … a move that would be such a failure that it was difficult to describe,” he said.
Outnumbered two-to-one, he noted that it marked one of the greatest loses of Australian life in a single day with almost 2000 men perishing in less than 24-hours.
Members of the public, ambassadors and others were then invited to lay wreaths at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
The gathering remembered those lying near them who had died in Indonesia, including those killed during years of captivity by the Japanese during the Second World War.
Among those remembered were the 65 army nurses who were evacuated from Singapore in February 1942 aboard SS Vyner Brooke.
Their ship was bombed and sunk. Twelve nurses were lost at sea while another 21 were executed by the Japanese on Bangka Island off Sumatra.
The remainder spent three-and-a-half years as prisoners of war, with only 24 returning home to Australia after the war ended.