Community & Business

12 August, 2022

Ceremony to mark VP Day

A SPECIAL ceremony that will mark the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day) will be held at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park this Sunday.

By Robyn Holmes

An image of soldiers recuperating in a ward of 2/2nd Australian General Hospital at Rocky Creek during World War II. Image: Australian War Memorial.
An image of soldiers recuperating in a ward of 2/2nd Australian General Hospital at Rocky Creek during World War II. Image: Australian War Memorial.

 VP Day commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender and, for Australians, the end of World War II. 

“During WWII, the Tablelands area became the largest military base in Australia, and Rocky Creek was the site of the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere,” Rocky Creek War Memorial Park committee member Cr Dave Bilney said. 

Between 1942-1946, the Rocky Creek area was occupied by a number of army hospitals, including the 1st and 5th Australian Camp Hospitals and the 2/2nd and 2/6th Australia General Hospitals as well as associated support units. 

It is estimated that around 60,000 Australian servicemen were tended to in the area, with the tow hospitals, which were constructed by the Allied Works Council, able to cater for 1200 men each and consisted of 40 wards. 

Most of the wards were canvas tents measuring about 20 metres in length, while six were timber and iron hits that housed about 50 patients each. 

In the early years of operation, services were not ideal, with staff having to rely upon generators for electricity until late 1944, and Rocky Creek itself for water needs.

When medical staff arrived at the facility, resources were few, with two 80-bed wards relying on one stove, water was carried in buckets and earth floors had to be levelled so chairs and tables would stand upright. 

Office staff sat on packing cases and most tents leaked, overcome by rearranging the patients. 

It was not until March 1944 that both hospitals were turned from tents to huts, raising the bed capacity to 1400 each. 

Today, the area is home to commemorative stone markers and plaques to remember the men and women who served their country during the war. 

“This year is the 77th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific and we’ll be dedicating five individual and one unit plaque during the ceremony,” Cr Bilney said. 

“The unit plaque recognises the 2/33 Australian Infantry Battalion Association. 

“The dedication and unveiling of the plaques commences at 10am, and people are invited to be seated by 10.45am for an 11am start of the VP Day Memorial Service. 

“Please stay at home if you have any flu-like symptoms and visit the memorial park on another day to pay your respects,” Cr Bilney added.

Limited camping for self contained vehicles is available in the adjacent rest area. 

At 2pm on VP day, there is another ceremony at the Atherton RSL building, to dedicate a monument to Australian servicemen who tragically lost their lives during the Afghanistan war.


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