Anzac Day always evokes sad memories for those who lost loved ones in war, none more so than Mallacoota’s Allan family whose much loved cousin died in the Pacific campaign. Stan Cameron was one of a family of five -3 sons (Stan, Allan and Keith) and twin daughters (Estelle and May) who spent their childhood days living with their parents Gordon and Myrtle (Allan) Cameron between Orbost, Genoa and Mallacoota.
Saturday’s Herald Sun had an article telling the story of the torpedoed Montevideo Maru (which, for reasons unknown, the Japanese failed to announce was carrying POWs even though it was established practice under the Geneva Convention). It was carrying civilians and 845 Australian servicemen captured after the fall of Rabaul in January 1942. The remaining 300 took to the jungles hoping to avoid capture, Stan’s mother waited for years to hear news of him.
Some of his mates who returned thought he had fled to the jungles but a padre felt sure he saw him walking up the gangplank to the ill-fated ship. What must have been the most heart breaking experience for his mother was the day she opened the door to one of his mates who asked to see him -as he thought Stan had made it home.
With the recent finding of the location of HMAS Sydney it would be wonderful if the resting place of the ‘Montevideo Maru’ could also be found.
After the war Keith Cameron and his cousin ‘Bulla’ Allan operated a butchery business in Mallacoota down next to the newsagency.
The following is the final paragraph of an address given at the Australian War Memorial by Ian Hodges on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru.
As we stand here today on the 60th anniversary of the loss of the Montevideo Maru and look at the names of those who perished on that ship – and not forgetting that the civilians who died are not listed here – we should remember that 60 years ago today Australia experienced its worst maritime disaster. Almost twice as many Australians lost their lives in one night as did in the ten years of the Vietnam War. They, and the families and friends who endured years of not knowing their fate, deserve to be remembered.
Stan Cameron pictured in uniform with his father Gordon and younger brother Allan prior to his departure overseas. He was one of the hundreds of Australian servicemen taken prisoner at the fall of Rabaul who subsequently perished when the Montevideo Maru (pictured) was sunk by the submarine USS Sturgeon on the 1st of July 1942. Stan’s mother was Myrtle Allan and by the time they moved to Mallacoota, Stan had finished with school but all his younger siblings attended the Mallacoota State School.