An emotionally charged Anzac eve service in Hunters Hill Town Hall on Monday night paid a special tribute to the Australian men and women who returned from war, often scarred and abandoned by society.
Guest speaker John Misto spoke about the Australian nurses who were captured, imprisoned, raped, starved and tortured by the Japanese in World War Two.
“When their camps were liberated the rule was, above all, that these starving, mistreated nurses should not be photographed because it would be a shocking damnation of how these women were not evacuated,” he said.
“It is impossible to describe their torture and their terrible conditions … it is enough to say those who were shot by the Japanese were the lucky ones.
“Yet when they returned home and they were taken to Concord Hospital, they were told they contributed nothing to the war effort and that it would be best they never married because they would only be a burden on their husbands.”
He said the nurses were denied memorials and war pensions are were treated as outcasts.
“It was clear that these brave, incredible women were not wanted.”
“Years later they told me that they knew what the Japanese would do to them, but nothing had prepared them for what Australia did to them.”
Hunters Hill Mayor Mark Bennett dedicated the night’s event to those who fought, died and especially to those who returned home, changed forever.
Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts fought back tears as he said:
“I know people who survived the war and those who still survive and who have been cast aside by our society.
“And tonight I remember the promises governments made to them and failed to deliver on, after the war had gone.
“I remember those servicemen who lingered on, on our streets and in half way homes, and those who spent the rest of their lives in hospitals.”