John Curtin’s death
The burden of being prime minister during the darkest days of the Second World War took its toll on the health of John Curtin. On 5 July 1945, just six weeks before the Japanese surrender, Curtin died at The Lodge. After a short period of lying in state, his memorial service was held in King’s Hall, Parliament House. His body was taken by gun carriage to RAAF Station Canberra and flown to his hometown of Perth on a RAAF Dakota A65-71. This aircraft is now held by the Australian War Memorial.
General Douglas MacArthur said of Curtin: “The preservation of Australia from invasion will be his immemorial monument.” After Curtin’s death, Frank Forde became prime minister for eight days until Ben Chifley won a party leadership ballot. Chifley was in office when victory finally came in the Pacific.
Guarded by four members of the fighting services, the casket, draped with an Australian flag, rests in front of the bronze statue of the late King George V. Members of parliament are seated on the left with members of the public standing to the right.