Media Releases

Statue to commemorate Torres Strait soldiers

Two of the last three remaining members of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion will unveil a statue commemorating their World War II involvement at a ceremony on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait on November 10.

Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion secretary Vanessa Seekee said Mebai Warusam, 95, from Saibai Island and Awati Mau, 93, from Bamaga would join the unveiling to mark the end of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Battalion.

“Getano O’Cloudy, 94, who is living in Townsville and not able to make it, will be in everyone’s thoughts on the day,” she said.

“The 660kg bronze statue was created by artist Liam Hardy, whose work includes the bronze Arthur Beetson Memorial Statue at Suncorp Stadium, with funding from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“It is significant for our community as the Torres Strait had the highest enlistment rate per population in the Commonwealth during World War II.

“The Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion boasted 880 Islanders and 265 members of the community joined other branches of the military including the United States Army Small Ships.

“This was an enormous volunteer contribution by a small community and their descendants still carry on the tradition today with many in the 51st Battalion Far North Queensland Regiment.

“Battalion members drew on a long history as warriors which will be celebrated at the unveiling with Island dancing by the Lagaw Thitui Dance Team and the Kayin Badulgaw Dance Team.

“Mr Warusam and Mr Mau attended our 75th anniversary celebrations in March when we held six events over two days. Dignitaries including the Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, who now commands the Australian Defence Force, the Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester, and the 1RAR band joined hundreds of members of the Torres Strait community for the celebrations.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said the historic statue at Thursday Island’s Anzac Park was another step forward in developing tourism in the Torres Strait.

“This spectacular part of Tropical North Queensland has outstanding World War II memorabilia at the Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island and at the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on Horn Island showing the important role Torres Strait Islanders played in helping the Allies defend Australia,” she said.

The Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion statue was funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet with additional sponsorship from Seaswift, Skytrans, Grand Hotel, Torres News, Radio 4MW,
Lagaw Thitui Dance Team, Kayin Badulgaw Dance Team, Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Torres Shire Council, Rob Clarke Builders, Godfrey Constructions, Coral Sea Concrete, IBIS, McDonalds Ferry, Peddells Ferry and Torres Strait Heritage.

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch will officiate at the November 10 unveiling ceremony which begins at 9am. It includes traditional Island dancing and a bacon and egg barbecue.

ENDS

For more information, contact:
Communications Consultant Liz Inglis
M: 0419 643 494 | E: liz@lizinglismedia.com