Cowra Breakout 80th Anniversary

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2024 marks the 80th Anniversary of the Cowra Breakout.

This year’s commemorations will take place over the 4th-5th August in Cowra and are a major milestone for both our community, as well as for Australia and Japan.

Message from the Chair of the Cowra Breakout 80th Anniversary Committee

Welcome to the commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the 1944 Cowra Breakout.

Allow me to share a personal reflection. It has been an honour for me to have been involved in marking the pivotal anniversaries of the Cowra Breakout. As Chair for the 50th Anniversary in 1994, I witnessed the historic gathering of Japanese and Australian soldiers, who had faced each other as adversaries in New Guinea. This was a momentous occasion, graced by the presence of the National President of the Returned and Services League Major General “Digger” James. Shortly afterwards he initiated profound movements towards reconciliation between our nations.

I have had the privilege of serving as Chair for the 50th, 75th, and now the 80th Anniversary—embarking on a three-decade journey alongside many others who were and remain committed and dedicated to fostering unity between Cowra and Japan, and indeed, between Australia and Japan. This year, we mark the 80th Anniversary of the Cowra Breakout, a tragic event where cultures clashed, and enemies met in battle on Australian soil. Yet, from this crucible emerged an enduring friendship, rooted in simplicity, depth, and truth—a bond that surpasses imagination.

The 80th Anniversary serves as an occasion for remembrance and reaffirmation of the deep and abiding connection between our nations. We, here in Cowra, extend an invitation to you, to join us in this significant commemoration.

Graham Apthorpe

Chair - Cowra Breakout 80th Anniversary Committee


Program of Events

Please note that the program will be updated with further details as they become available.

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80th Anniversary Commemorative Mayoral Dinner

Hosted by Cr Ruth Fagan, Mayor of Cowra, the Mayoral Dinner is a key event within the program of events for the two-day period of commemoration.

The Dinner will be held at Cowra's historic Showground Pavilion on Sunday 4 August 2024 at 6.30 PM.

Tickets are $80 per person and include a three-course dinner showcasing Cowra's finest produce and local wines.

Tickets go on sale 4 May 2024. Purchase your tickets online at Eventbrite. 

For further information, please contact Council’s Event Coordinator, Emma Millward at or 02 6340 2086.

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Video - When the War Came to Cowra

When The War Came to Cowra is a short, historical video depicting life at Number 12 Prisoner of War and Internment Group, Cowra.

The project was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Veteran Affairs 'Saluting Their Service' program.

You can watch the video here: