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Peter Garrett is new Montevideo Maru patron

Garrett_Peter AUSTRALIA's Environment Minister Peter Garrett is to be the new Patron of the Montevideo Maru Memorial Committee.

In February, he will take over the role from Prof Kim Beazley, recently appointed as Australia’s ambassador to the United States.

The Committee was established a year ago to ensure greater national recognition for events surrounding the fall of Rabaul in 1942 and Australia’s greatest maritime disaster, the sinking of the Montevideo Maru with the loss of 1,053 troops and civilians.

Peter Garrett’s grandfather, Tom Vernon Garrett, was a prisoner on the Montevideo Maru.

Tom, a planter, was born in London UK and served in World War I with the 6th Light Horse Regiment. He lived at Varzin Plantation on New Britain and was 54 when he died.

“My grandfather’s death was mentioned in passing at family events, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties, when I saw an article concerning the incident, that my understanding was filled in,” Mr Garrett said.

“It’s time to fill a huge gap in our history,” Mr Garrett said.

“By giving recognition to one of the most significant and tragic events of World War II, we can honor those who lost their lives and provide a much needed commemoration of this extraordinary event.”

“The sinking of the Montevideo Maru was one of the most significant events of World War II but is still relatively little known. It is an important part of Australia’s history and, given my family connection, I was pleased to become Patron of the committee.”

Peter Garrett AM MP was elected the Labor Member for the electorate of Kingsford Smith at the 2004 federal election and was appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts following the election of the Rudd Labor Government in November 2007.

He is a passionate advocate and campaigner on a range of Australian and global issues, particularly related to the arts and the environment.

Performing He came to public prominence as a member and lead singer of the Australian band, Midnight Oil. In this role, he wrote the lyrics of a popular song, In The Valley, which drew its power from the Montevideo Maru sinking and other tragic events that had affected his family.

My grandfather went down with the Montevideo
The rising sun sent him floating to his rest

Peter Garrett will take up his position as Patron of the Montevideo Maru Memorial Committee on 1 February 2010.

See also John Huxley's piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald here.

And you can view a clip of In The Valley on YouTube here....

The Montevideo Maru issue has a powerful connection with PNG, and especially with Rabaul and the New Guinea islands. MvM Newsletter is a free monthly publication that reports on developments, research, history and on the activities of the Montevideo Maru Memorial Committee. Subscribe now by contacting Keith Jackson here.


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John Ellis

A friend gave me a cutting from the SMH [Tues 15 Dec 2009] re Peter Garrett and the story of his grandfather Tom Garrett’s death on the Montevideo Maru.

My uncle Private Alfred William Hawkins Service number NX68309 was in the 19 Dental Unit and we believe he perished on this tragic sinking.

The AWM Roll of Honour indicates he died at sea (South West Pacific Area) 1 July 1942.

I would be pleased if I could get confirmation of the above.

The ABC program on Arthur Gullidge we found very interesting as we are Salvationists.

Thanks for what you and you committee are attempting.

Our records show that Private Hawkins died on the Montevideo Maru. He was aged 40 - KJ

Gerri Nicholas

Great publicity in today's SMH. Congratulations. I hope the search for the Centaur will make your task a little easier.

I wrote short biographies for three of the men who went down with this hospital ship, so I'll be following the progress closely.

In the same book I wrote about one of the Montevideo men so I have a particular interest and wish you well in your lobbying endeavours.

These men were all former students of St Aloysius' College.

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