HUNDREDS descended on the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial for its 10th anniversary service in Ballarat yesterday.
About 600 people, including ex-POWs, friends, family and Ballarat dignitaries, paid their respect to the thousands of men and women who were held captive during the Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and conflicts around the world.
The official ceremony started at 11.30am and included speeches from master of ceremonies Bruce Roberts, Ballarat City Council mayor Josh Morris, senator and minister for veteran affairs Michael Ronaldson and RSL national president Ken Doolan.
Ex-POW trustee Les Kennedy, who is also a former mayor of Ballarat, said the morning ceremony was a success.
“The ceremony went very, very well,” Mr Kennedy said.
“We were expecting a lot of people to show up. We had 600 chairs and every one of those chairs was occupied.”
The Royal Australian Air Force also performed solo fly-overs above the event.
Mr Kennedy said war veterans were still being added to the memorial wall, which already features 36,000 names.
Ballarat City Council mayor Josh Morris said it was amazing to have Ballarat locals push for something of national significance.
“(The memorial wall) is the first tribute to the men and women that gave so much,” Cr Morris said.
Mr Kennedy became involved with the Australian ex-POW memorial in 1996.
In 1997, Mr Kennedy was made project coordinator until the completion of the memorial in 2004.
Mr Kennedy said there was a long battle by the project committee to receive funding for the memorial from council, state and federal governments.
“It did take so long for us to get any sort of funding,” Mr Kennedy said.
Eventually it was the late Tony Charlton who helped secure $1.1 million in funding for the memorial in his role as the Tattersall’s George Adams Foundation director. The memorial was opened on February 6, 2004, with an anniversary ceremony held on the Sunday closest to the date.
William Francis Bahr, Les Kennedy, David John Stewart and Raymond Donald Mende are the four Australian ex-POW trustees.