By Lyna Mohamad
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, yesterday afternoon consented to receive in audience Mr Alan Griffin, Australian Minister for Veteran's Affairs, who is in Brunei in conjunction with the "Dedication of the Brunei-Australia Memorial" to be held on Saturday, December 13 at the Muara Beach.
The audience ceremony took place at Istana Nurul Iman.
Six ageing servicemen will represent 20,000 fellow Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen who took part in the operation known as OBOE 6, which helped end the Japanese occupation of Borneo island, according to a history provided by Australia's Department of Veterans' Affairs, AFP reported.
"We were the first to land in Borneo," recalled Rex Kawelmacher, whose B Company led the way that morning when Australia's 2/17th Infantry Battalion hit the Muara Beach, which the troops called Green Beach.
The memorial stands a few metres from that beach and will be dedicated at 8.30am, almost the exact time naval guns opened fire to pave the way for the troops on Sunday, June 10, 1945.
Kawelmacher said he came through the war unscarred and his battalion was also relatively lucky, with one killed and a handful wounded. In the wider OBOE 6 operation, 114 Australians lost their lives and 221 were wounded, Veterans' Affairs says.
- Borneo Bulletin
(12th Dec 2008)