Saluting the life of Frank McGovern, the last survivor of HMAS Perth

Anthony Albanese MP

May 25, 2023

Today we salute the life of Frank McGovern. During WWII, Frank survived two torpedo attacks, twice becoming a prisoner of war. He survived forced labour and the firebombing of Tokyo. He lost a brother, who served with him on HMAS Perth. And yet still counted himself lucky. I got to meet Frank just before Anzac Day this year. Frank was a man of deep modesty, gentle humour, and powerful optimism. He is gone today but – like all who serve – never forgotten. Lest we forget.

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15.21 AEST

15.20 AEST

Peter Dutton also pays tribute to Frank McGovern:

We are here today as a country to survive and be strengthened and we stand tall in the world because of people like Frank McGovern. We should never forget it.

We commemorate much of our history, but we don’t concentrate enough on the great stories those pioneers, those people in the first and World War II in Vietnam and Korea and other conflicts in the Middle East that have strengthened our national character.

People like Frank McGovern would do it all over again for this country, for those people that they love and the country that they cherish.

I want to pay tribute to Frank to his fallen comrades, 103 is an incredible innings.

We should point out, for the benefit of our colleagues, yes, to enjoy a bottle of wine each day will get you to that, but that is not encouragement to each day to have two bottles for our colleagues if you want to live beyond 103.

I want to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served because Frank did that, he was very significant part of theCoogee Randwick, Clare Valley subbranch of the RSL, right behind with an OAM and a reminder, as the Prime Minister rightly says, of our greatest generation.

May he rest in peace, lest we forget.

15.18 AEST

PM remembers Frank McGovern as an’ ‘extraordinary Australian’

Anthony Albanese said meeting Frank McGovern was one of the honours of being prime minister:

Frank was 103 years of age, he was still living at home by himself and cooking for himself. He told me the secret to life, a long life, was he drank a bottle of wine every day. And, he insisted even … though it was a reasonably early hour of the morning that I have a beer with him. And I did that.

He was amazing. An extraordinary Australian as part of our greatest generation, a man of deep modesty, general humour and powerful optimism.

… He told me that every Anzac Day he doesn’t march anymore, he used to [but] he ran out of mates. So he thinks about his family and spends it with them.

Mr Speaker, Frank McGovern lived to see what his service and his mate’s sacrifice meant to Australians.

We salute his life today, he is gone but like all who serve our great country in uniform, in the past and today, it will never be forgotten. Lest we forget.

Updated at 15.22 AEST

15.17 AEST

Anthony Albanese pays tribute to the passing of the last survivor of the HMAS Perth

Question time ends a little early, but Anthony Albanese asks the house to remain to pay tribute to Frank McGovern, the last survivor of the HMAS Perth, who died overnight at age 103.


This is one of Australia’s worst maritime disasters. 1,500 POWs perished in the sinking, including 543 Australians. Frank survived the attack … survived a sinking stop and located a lifeboat left behind by the Japanese.

For three days he and 30 other soldiers survived in this life boat. By the third day, with nothing, Frank and his crew were ordered at gunpoint to board a Japanese ship, becoming a prisoner of war for the second time.

He endured months of work in the factories at Kawasaki camp in Tokyo [as] the US commenced the deadliest air raid in history, with 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs dropped over 16 square miles of Tokyo.

Frank was moved to a new camp only to narrowly survive another bombing. This one fractured his spine [but] in the hospital, warned about the danger to incapacitated prisoners, Frank managed to stand and walk at pace with the Japanese guards.

He told me this story, about how some of his colleagues would go off for what was termed surgery and be drained of their blood because that was being used for the Japanese soldiers. Those who were injured.

One of his colleagues and comrades said to him that this was what was going on, so somehow with a fractured spine, he managed to stand, and get out of the hospital in order to avoid the dreadful fate that some of his comrades were dealt with.

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