THE ninth anniversary of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial was marked with a solemn ceremony yesterday, with hundreds joining Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowden in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
In mild conditions and with flags at half mast, Ballarat mayor John Burt joined federal MP Catherine King, state representatives Sharon Knight and Simon Ramsay, and Ballarat RSL sub-branch president Alex Tascas for the ceremony.
Wreaths were laid for ex-service organisations, Ballarat schools and community groups at the memorial, which features names of more than 35,000 Australian POWs who served in defence forces and the Merchant Navy.
Author and historian Anthony Hill told the story of teenage POW Billy Young, who was held at Changi, Sandakan and Outram Road prisons from 1942 to1945.
“Billy was only 16 when he was captured at the fall of Singapore in 1942 and interned at Changi,” Mr Hill said.
Known as Billy the Kid, the 15-year-old had misrepresented himself as four years older.
“He gave (the name of) a fictitious aunt on the consent form.
“She still appears as his next of kin on the official records as Martha Young.”
Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, who is national RSL president, and federal president of the Ex-Prisoners of War Association Ron Zwar told the crowd that the memorial, opened in February 2004, holds great significance as a national landmark.