Ian McPhedran
From: The Courier-Mail
July 01, 2011

THE victims of Australia’s least-known – but worst – maritime disaster were remembered on July 1, 2011, at an annual Memorial service in Brisbane as efforts stepped up for a permanent memorial to remember the more than 1000 who were lost.

The society has until October this year to raise the remainder to fund the memorial that is due to be unveiled next July on the 70th anniversary of the tragedy.

Rudy Buckley, born in Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, was only 12 when he witnessed the Australian prisoners of war and civilians being loaded on to barges in the harbour and taken to the Japanese ship moored offshore.

The Montevideo Maru was intercepted by the US Navy submarine Sturgeon in the South China Sea off the Philippines and sank in only 11 minutes.

The families of the dead, including relatives of former Labor leader Kim Beazley and Federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett, whose uncle and grandfather were on board the vessel, were not advised until the war ended more than three years later.

Mr Garrett [Patron of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society] said a memorial was “long overdue” and it was still hard to contemplate the scale of the  tragedy and the fact that so little was known about the event.

“It’s long overdue for a memorial to record both this crucial event in our wartime history and acknowledge the huge loss of life that happened,” he said.

*** Donations to the memorial fund can be made through the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, PO Box 1743, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089. ***

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