Veterans of the Battle of Leyte Gulf Honored in Melbourne at the Inauguration of the First Commemorative Plaque in Australia


On the 80th Anniversary of the largest naval battle in history in 1944,
we honor those who served and died to help liberate the Philippines

     Melbourne’s iconic Shrine of Remembrance, dedicated to veterans of war, is now host to a permanent marker honoring the service and sacrifice of Australian, American, Filipino, and other Allies during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest recorded naval battle in history.

Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance with the flags of the United States, Australia, and the Philippines. (Photo by Angelito Valdez, Jr.)

     The plaque was unveiled in the presence of over 200 people, which included WWII veterans, Philippine Ambassador Ma. Hellen De la Vega, Philippine Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo, Members of State Parliament Paul Edbrooke, representing the Minister for Veterans Affairs The Hon. Natalie Suleyman, Commodore Greg Yorke AM CSC, Chairperson of the Victorian Veterans Council, Commissioner Vivian Nguyen of the Victoria Multicultural Commission, other Australian state and local officials, members of the Consular Corps and the Filipino Community led by Katipunan Australia.

     Commander Terry Makings, Governor of the Shrine of Remembrance, is host of the event. Also in attendance are Commodore Greg Yorke, Chairperson of the Victoria Veterans Council, as well as officials of the Australia America Association, Armed Merchant Cruiser Association, Returned Services League in Victoria, the Royal Australian Navy Band, historians and the academicians.

     Philippine Ambassador to Australia, Ma. Hellen De La Vega, delivered the Keynote Address, highlighting on the significance of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the friendly ties between the Philippines, Australia and the United States and of the unveiling of the commemorative plaque to the Strategic Partnership between the Philippines and Australia, which celebrates the 78th anniversary of diplomatic relations on 22 May 2024.

Left: The Ambassador delivers the keynote address. Right: MP Paul Edbrook, MP Wayne Farnham, Ambassador dela Vega, and Consul General Salcedo unveil the plaque (Photo by Angelito Valdez, Jr)

     Living WWII veterans Harold Ristrom, who served in HMAS Kanimbla at the time of the Battle, and Bruce Crowl, who served in HMAS Australia, led the laying of wreaths.

The Service had over 200 attendees on that unusually beautiful Melbourne autumn morning. (Photo by Angelito Valdez, Jr.)

     After the ceremony, a short reception was held in the Shrine’s visitor’s centre where a documentary film produced by Katipunan Australia on the Battle of Leyte Gulf was shown followed by a short entertainment of Filipino songs by a Filipino classical guitarist and a Filipina singer.

     The Commemorative Plaque is situated underneath a dedicated oak tree within the grounds of the Shrine of Remembrance, 150m away from the main monument. It shall be a permanent marker to the enduring partnership of the Philippines and Australia, a rallying point for celebration and remembrance by the Filipino Community in Victoria.


The Plaque is the first permanent marker of its kind in Melbourne and the first in Australia of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Veteran Harold “Hiram” Ristrom, who was at the Leyte Landing (Center, in wheelchair) is flanked by Philippine and Australian officials and veteran family members and Filipino Community eaders (Photo by Angelito Valdez, Jr.)


About the Shrine of Remembrance:  The Shrine of Remembrance was founded in 1934 as the National War Memorial of Victoria. It is located in the Kings Domain, one of Melbourne’s iconic open green spaces.

About the Battle of Leyte Gulf:  Considered to be the largest naval battle in history taking place during WWII, the Battle of Leyte Gulf was fought in October 1944. In this battle, Allied US, Filipino (under the US flag) and Australian forces confronted the Imperial Japanese navy over several days through hundreds of ships. This is also the largest military battle in which the Australian navy participated. The victory of the Allied Forces in this Battle is considered one of the turning points for both the liberation of the Philippines and a complete Allied victory, paving the way for the end of the Second World War.

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