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    Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
    The Honourable Mark Furner

    Cherbourg remembers wartime evacuees

    Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
    The Honourable Mark Furner

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017

    Cherbourg remembers wartime evacuees

    Cherbourg residents will today pause to remember the 75th Anniversary of the evacuation of Torres Strait Islander families to their community during the Second World War.

    In 1942, the town welcomed more than 200 people from northern communities including Thursday Island, which were ‘beyond the front line of Australia’s defence’.

    Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mark Furner said the anniversary was an opportunity to acknowledge the impact the evacuations had on both communities.

    “During the height of the Japanese push toward Australia during the Second World War, large numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were evacuated to safer areas,” he said.

    “What is pleasing to see is that after 75 years there is still a bond that unites both communities and that is why we come together to remember and acknowledge the impact these evacuations had on the families involved.”

    The remembrance will be held at the Historic Ration Shed Museum in Cherbourg and will include a memorial service at the Cherbourg War Memorial and a tour of the museum.

    Mr Furner said the Rations Shed Museum was home to a historical exhibition in the form of historical records, photographs, artefacts and a community timeline.

    “Whilst the evacuation in 1942 was not compulsory, many people did accept the offer to head to south,” he said.

    “Those who remained joined the only all Indigenous Australian battalion ever formed by the Australian Army, the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion.”

    The battalion was used mainly in a garrison role defending the islands of the Torres Strait, although in 1943 a detachment was sent to patrol Dutch New Guinea where they carried out patrol operations in search of Japanese occupation.

    Following the end of the war, the battalion was disbanded.

    Media contact: Brock Taylor – 0427 018 178