In Canberra on Saturday, more than 600 relatives of those lost on the Montevideo Maru, plus others linked to these dark events, gathered for a luncheon, addressed by, among others, Federal Minister Peter Garrett.
Mr Garrett, whose grandfather Tom Garrett was lost on Montevideo Maru, said this memorial was righting a wrong in recognising the sacrifice of those lost in 1942 and of family members who knew nothing of what occurred until after the war.
"The delay in formal notification both of those who lost their lives in the event itself and the subsequent response by Australian governments in the post-war period had a paucity about it which is still puzzling," he said.
Guest speaker Army Chief Lieutenant General David Morrison said this was one of the most tragic events of Australian military history and was the culmination of a chain of disastrous strategic and tactical decisions.
"Far too many brave young Australians paid the ultimate price for it. The dead of the Montevideo Maru silently rebuke Australia and remind us some 70 years later of the consequences of neglect of the nation's defence," he said.