Tingira Australia Association participated at the recent 75th Coral Sea Commemorations in
Canberra and New York, the team was spread oceans apart.
“The Canberra weather was unusually kind with sunshine and warmth filling the moment. This
occasion was grand on a scale of local commemorations for the Canberra organisers of the Australian American Association. However, the event was playing out across the other side of the Pacific with a worldwide audience in tune for a first time” said Tingira Secretary, Mark Lee.
The 75th anniversary of the famous sea battle said to be “the Battle that saved Australia” was in the world media with a focus from many fronts. At short notice , Tingira suddenly had a presence at this prestigious US event.
Associate Tingira Member, well known Australian singer-songwriter, Amber Lawrence’ (Miss
Tingira) was one of the main Australian entertainers for the evening dinner. Australian Prime
Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, US President, Donald Trump front row with many VIP guests at the
commemorative dinner on board the former US navy aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, dockside in
Amber is well known to Australian military, as an ambassador for RSL DefenceCare, she has
performed on several occasions for Australian troops in East Timor and Afghanistan over the past decade. For this international event Amber performed a very special new song – “100 – Year Handshake” which she wrote last year as a tribute to American-Australian relations.
Amber has performed for the Tingira Boys at their annual Sydney Presidents Dinner for the past three years, always a great highlight with the Tinny Boys version of Yellow Submarine!
Canberra – The Royal Australian Navy Band marched on to the Australian-American Memorial at
Sir Thomas Blamey Square at Russell Defence Office. Embassy ambassadors, senior Australian
Defence members, Tingira Australia Assoc Secretary, Mark Lee with student members from St
Thomas More primary school Canberra representing the youth of Australia, laid commemorative
wreaths during the sombre 45 minute commemorative service.
Representing the US ambassador, Mr. James Carouso read a tribute message from US President
Donald Trump. A very special guest, His Excellency, Mr. Sumio Lusaka, ambassador for Japan,
delivered a moving tribute of the event from 75 years past with Japan, US and Australia at war off our northern coastline.
The Tingira wreath portrayed the storyline of one of the many Tingira boys that served on board HMAS Australia during this famous ‘Battle for the Coral Sea’.
William Warner – A teenage signalman who served in the battlecruiser HMAS Australia.
“The only means of signalling in such conditions was by flashing the 24 inch searchlights, which were at best indistinct in the misty thick spray. It was very difficult to manipulate these searchlights and this job was hard work.
Despite the use of several pairs of woollen mittens, one on top of the other, my hands would soon become numb and my face would ache from the cold. It was almost impossible to keep a foothold on the slippery, sloppy uncovered brass deck and I could easily fall a number of times….
It was far worse at night in the pitchy darkness when nothing was clearly visible and you could have persons or things bumping into you. The sound of retching, with interspersed groans coming from the bridge corner was nauseating.
On such dark nights in a gale the only sanctuary was your hammock, but even this jerked around like a suspended gyro, and the air of the mess deck was foul. If and when you got to your hammock it was likely as not to be lying in a sloppy pool of water”.
For an 18 year old signalman, even after his tough training in HMAS Tingira in 1914-15, the sea was hard and dangerous work. William Warner describing life on the lower deck in a much forgotten part of the Australian experience of World War I.