Bombing of Darwin Day on the 19th February commemorates the first bombing raid on Darwin in 1942. A lot has been written about this day and the days afterwards when the enemy bombed Northern Australia.
When I was the CEO of the NT Centenary of Federation we chose the Bombing of Darwin as our event of National Significance as it was the first time that the Federation was attacked on home soil. We called it Federation Frontline and while significant work was undertaken for the ceremony, the work I am most proud of is the book by Peter and Sheila Forrest, Federation Frontline – A People’s Story of WW2 in the Northern Territory and the accompanying educational resource. This book and resource were sent to every secondary school in Australia in a bid to ensure that the rest of Australia came to know and understand the significance of those events. That was for the 67th anniversary.
Recognising our veterans
This year we will commemorate the 75th Anniversary with all due pomp and circumstance. My role, as Lord Mayor, in this is to host the event.
We have several now very elderly veterans who will make the trip back to Darwin to remember, commemorate and tell their stories. Each year, as the numbers of veterans dwindle, it has become very important that those that remain are afforded every opportunity to be recognised as the national treasures they are.
It is always lovely to meet these veterans and to hear their stories, particularly when they remember my family and the work they did in their tailor shop just prior to the Bombing. My father’s family evacuated out of Darwin in late 1941, along with a lot of other locals. They settled in Alice Springs.
A small world
This reminds me of a funny story. When I was 16 I was lucky to win an AFS scholarship to study in the USA for a year.
During my year in the USA I was asked to talk to various groups about Darwin. After one such talk to a group of returned service men, a member approached me saying “I knew your grandmother.” I’m like seriously?
Anyway, it turns out that my grandmother, Lorna Lim, established a café near the railhead in Alice Springs. It was often where people travelling to Darwin would stop and have their last non army rations meal. When he said “Best Steak Dinner ever,” I knew he was telling the truth because my Grandmother certainly did make a very good steak dinner. It really is a small world.