The 69th anniversary of the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea will be marked during a commemoration service at the Australian American Memorial in Blamey Square, Russell, beginning at 1.30pm.
The service is organised every year by the Canberra Division of the Australian American Association (AAA) with the full support of the Australian and United States Governments and the defence forces of both countries.
Among the guests at this year’s ceremony will be the Governor General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, Mike Kelly MP, representing Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the United States Ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich, senior Defence Force officers from both countries and representatives of ex-service Associations.
The Ceremonial Officer for the service, Peter Radtke, said the various AAA chapters organised services around the country.
“The battle raged over several days in early May 1942 after a large Japanese fleet was sighted in the Coral Sea heading for an attack on Port Moresby. It was repelled by joint Australian-American action at considerable cost,” he said.
“But for the first time in the war, the Japanese advance had been halted. The tide was turning.”
The sea battle was the first in history that was fought by aircraft against ships and where the opposing forces were beyond the sight of each other. It was over by midday on May 8 and after assessing the huge loss of aircraft and damage to his fleet, Japanese Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue abandoned the planned invasion of Port Moresby.
Mr Radtke said the battle symbolised the vital help that the United States gave to Australia during the war in the Pacific.
“In many ways it was the beginning of a very special friendship between the two countries that continues to this day,” he said.