Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

140613 - Speech - Funeral Service of WW2 soldiers

12 June 2014

Funeral Service for Lance Corporal Walklate and Private Eagleton; Soldiers of the Second World War

Address by Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, HE Ms Deborah Stokes

Bomana War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea

We are here today to lay to rest the remains of Lance Corporal Spencer Walklate and Private Ronald Eagleton with full military honours.
These brave men of the Z Special Unit died in Papua New Guinea during World War Two. They undertook clandestine missions that required supreme endurance and courage.

Lance Corporal Walklate and Private Eagleton died on one of these missions. Their actions directly contributed to the defence of PNG and Australia. They resisted, and ultimately defeated, an enemy against overwhelming odds.

The presence of Mr Edgar Dennis adds a special significance to this ceremony. As the only surviving member of that ill-fated patrol, only you know the conditions faced and the actions of these men in the immediate period before they were lost. I am sure they would be proud that you have made the journey to honour their memory at this special occasion.

To the families of both soldiers, your loss and sacrifice is honoured here today. Lance Corporal Walklate and Private Eagleton’s final resting place is now known. We hope you will take solace that both men now rest here in the beautiful Bomana War Cemetery which has become a site of pilgrimage for a growing number of Australians ad others every year.

It is important at this time that we also pause to remember the support and sacrifice that Papua New Guinea gave Australia when our Nation was tested. This terrible war bought Australia and Papua New Guinea together. A bond that remains extremely close today and will remain into the future.

The work of the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit was instrumental in allowing us to be here today to honour these brave men. Without the dedication of this unit, many of Australia’s fallen servicemen could not be laid to rest and families would forever ponder their fate. But much more work remains to be done. There remain many more Australian servicemen unaccounted for and we hope that through the efforts of Mr Brian Manns and his team, we will be able to bring dignity, recognition and certainty to the families of other servicemen who have no known grave.

On behalf of the Government and the People of Australia I salute Lance Corporal Spencer Walklate and Private Ronald Eagleton. You gave your lives for your Nation at a time of acute need.

You will never be forgotten.