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8/12 remembers Darwin bombing

8/12 remembers Darwin bombing
Four M2A2 Howitzer guns roared to life on The Esplanade, Darwin on Wednesday 19 February, re-enacting the moment in 1942 when Australian soldiers fought with valour against the first and largest enemy air attack on Australian soil.

The 72nd Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin was supported by soldiers from the Army’s 8th/12th Regiment, their four Howitzer ceremonial guns firing seven blank 105mm rounds in succession to commemorate each decade passed since the devastating attack.

The gunfire, prompted by the fly past of two PC-9/A(F) aircraft from 4 Squadron, RAAF Base Williamtown, left a crowd of more than 2,500 veterans, school children and community members in awe. The PC-9s represented a force of more than 188 bombers, dive bombers and fighter aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy, who launched to attack Darwin from four aircraft carriers in the Timor Sea.

Representing the Prime Minister of Australia, Assistant Defence Minister the Hon. Mr Stuart Robert addressed the gathering and said the occasion was an opportunity to acknowledge the day when a city of a mere 6,000 were battered, but refused to kneel.

“We’ve come to remember a day, where few, stood against many,” he said.

“We are here to acknowledge the heroism of our Defences Forces and of our American allies. We are here to remember and commemorate those who were killed and wounded on that day, and proclaim a community that was resilient, of a people who were and are courageous, and Territorians who were defiant in the face of force.”

235 people were killed and around 400 wounded in the first of more than 100 air raids on northern Australia over the two years 1942-1943. 131 casualties were US military personnel. 11 ships were sunk, with the largest loss of life from the destroyer USS Peary, with 88 men Killed In Action.

95 year old, retired Sergeant John Moyle, a Darwin resident and former Anti Aircraft Gunner in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea said the re-enactment was a very nostalgic experience.

"It brought back harsh memories, I think about mates I haven’t got anymore, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Gunner, Timothy Muhamad said it was sobering, but an honour to be involved in bringing the experience to life for the Darwin community.

“It’s been a great day at work, to be part of re-enacting such a significant event, and in particular to see the young faces of the school kids, as they learn about an important part of Darwin, and Australia’s history,” he said.

Last updated
7 September 2016
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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