Press release (Minister of Veteran Affairs)

The Hon. Alan Griffin MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

The Hon. Bob Debus MP
Federal Member for Macquarie

David Bradbury MP
Federal Member for Lindsay

Media Release

RAAF chemical warfare unit honoured this Remembrance Day

RAAF armourers who served in a secretive World War II chemical warfare unit have been honoured with the unveiling of a special memorial at Glenbrook this Remembrance Day.

The Federal Government provided a $4,000 grant to the Glenbrook RSL for the memorial as part of the Saluting Their Service program administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The memorial is located at the tunnel in Glenbrook where RAAF armourers stored drums of mustard gas and phosgene- deadly chemical weapons brought to Australia by England and the United States as part of a defence strategy against the Japanese advance in the Pacific. Those same armourers later transported and tested these chemical weapons in Queensland, Darwin and Marangaroo in the New South Wales Central West.

“I am proud that the Rudd Government has provided funding for this memorial, which honours all of the RAAF armourers who worked around Australia storing, transporting and testing chemical weapons during World War II,” said Federal Member for Macquarie, Bob Debus.

“I would like to acknowledge all of the RAAF armourers, including local South Penrith resident Geoff Burn for the dangerous work that they undertook as members of the chemical warfare unit. This work included wading through pools of phosgene and being exposed to high levels of toxic mustard gas,” said Federal Member for Lindsay, David Bradbury.

“In June last year, I made a speech in Parliament acknowledging the RAAF chemical warfare unit, and I am pleased that as part of Remembrance Day for 2009 we have been able to unveil a permanent reminder of the contribution of these men to the defence of Australia during World War II.”

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Mr Griffin said Saluting their Service grants were available to help communities across the nation honour and commemorate our wartime history.

“Commemorative activities in local communities play a major role in encouraging Australians – especially younger Australians – to learn about our wartime experiences and provide an opportunity for veterans to share their stories,” Mr Griffin said.