National tribute to lifesavers who perished in war

By Carolyn Barry 27 April 2014
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In the lead up to the centenary of Gallipoli, a national tribute to lifesavers who died serving their country has been unveiled

A MEMORIAL COMMEMORATING Australian lifesavers who served in the armed forces has been unveiled in a rain-shrouded ceremony at Coogee Beach in Sydney.

The bronze statue, sculpted by Australian artist Alan Somerville, was revealed by NSW Governor Marie Bashir. The statute, facing out to sea, depicts a Digger in his iconic hat and a lifesaver with the traditional belt and reel that was formerly used as a rescue device.

“When the call came for our surf life savers to go to war, they volunteered in their thousands”, said Graham Ford, president of Surf Life Saving Australia. “This fallen lifesavers memorial celebrates the contribution that surf lifesavers have made to our nation and commemorates those who have gone on to serve in our defence forces and protect our way of life and freedom that we cherish so much.”

Fallen Lifesavers remembered

Life saving activities continued during wartime efforts with carnivals in Palestine and Borneo. Serving lifesavers also set up patrols on beaches in the Solomon Islands, Syria, and Papua New Guinea.

The national memorial is also a dedication to the current serving members, said Malcolm Turnbull, minister for communications, who laid a wreath at the statue.

“We must remember that our military service our military sacrifice continues today,” he said. “They should always be foremost in our mind, especially on a day like today”.

In time for the Gallipoli centenary in April 2015, the names of all lifesavers who died while serving in the armed forces will be engraved in a remembrance wall near the statue.


Aitape, northern New Guinea, 16 September 1945. Two competing teams awaiting the start of an event at the surf-lifesaving carnival in which around 20 teams from RAAF and Australian army units participated. (Credit: AWM)





Disclosure: Carolyn Barry is a member of Coogee SLSC