The bells will ring

The bells will ring

On August 15, 2020 we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific and the end of World War Two. 

On that day, the Imperial Japanese Army unconditionally surrendered to the Allies and the Second World War ended.

World War Two was of particular significance for Tasmania; providing more than 30,000 service personnel from a population of just 250,000.

It is also estimated that nearly 16,000 people, including 5,000 women, worked in factories and on the land to support the war effort and supply the armed forces with vegetables, dairy and meat products.

All Tasmanians are invited to recognise this important day and remember the 1,100 Tasmanians who lost their lives in World War Two.

Steve Grey recalls the stories told by his late father Flight Lieutenant Percy James Grey, Circular Head’s most highly decorated veteran from World War II.

Flight Lieutenant Percy James Grey enlisted on May 22, 1942 travelling around the world to join both the 51st and the 578 squadrons.

“Dad’s other claim to fame was that a boy from Smithton had travelled around the world,” Steve recalls.

“Travelling to England in ’43, he sailed to America before travelling across the country to Canada where he then sailed on to England.”

Flight Lieutenant Grey joined the Royal Airforce, fighting for Britain as a tail gunner in three operations. Enduring being shot at in a night fight near Nuremberg, Germany, and surviving an emergency landing in England with no undercarriage and the plane careering down the runway after being shot by anti-aircraft over Berlin.

“Dad also played a part in the bombings on D-Day,” Steve said. 

During World War II [1939-1945], the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day.

Flight Lieutenant Grey was discharged from Squadron 51 on August 23, 1945 with the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

He returned home to Smithton where he worked in his families cordial factory on Goldie Street, before becoming a licensed book maker.

Flight Lieutenant Grey died in 1959 aged 48 years.

Tune in to the national commemorative service being held at the Australian War Memorial commencing at 9.30am and broadcast on ABC after 9.30am. 

There will be a small private Tasmanian service  held at 11am at Government House. 

This service is not open to the public. Bells will ring across Australia on the day. 

In Tasmania the bells at St. David’s Cathedral will ring at 12pm. 

Smithton Anglican Parish’s Joel Nankervis will ring the bells in time with the rest of Australia.

The Australian Government’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs will make available a medallion and certificate to every living veteran of the Second World War. 

This is a small but meaningful way to thank living veterans of the largest global conflict of the 20th century.

Applications to receive the medallion and certificate can be made by visiting the DVA website here or for those without access to the internet, by phoning 1800 838 372.