More than 3000 people converged on the Cenotaph today to commemorate the 81st anniversary of the day Darwin found itself on the frontline of Australia’s World War II defences.
The crowd heard recounts of the catastrophic loss of life when the bombs began falling on Darwin at 9.58 on the morning of February 19, 1942.
February 19 is not just a day to commemorate the day war arrived at Australia’s front door, it is also a time to acknowledge Darwin’s incredible resilience, according to Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis.
“Those first bombing raids on Darwin on 19 February 1942 were the deadliest wartime attacks ever inflicted on Australia,” Mr Vatskalis said.
“As we mark the anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, we are reminding people of what happened here during World War II and how it remains important to all Australians.
“Today is not a day to celebrate war. It is a time to remember what happened here 81 years ago and to reflect on the way the people of Darwin bounced back.”
More than 230 people were killed and a further 300-400 injured when two waves of Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin 81 years ago.
Mr Vatskalis said, while there is no doubting the courage of the service people who defended Darwin, the stories of the strength of the civilian population were also incredible.
“The lives of average Darwin people were thrown into turmoil, with half the town’s civilian population evacuated, leaving many to endure some incredibly tough times as refugees in their own country,” Mr Vatskalis said.
“Our city has stood strong in the wake of war and cyclones and is today a modern, vibrant, multicultural city. That resilience is part our city’s DNA and it’s something we should all be proud of.”
February 19 is a National Day of Observance, alongside ANZAC Day, and Remembrance Day, and is a unique honour for an Australian city.
To find out more about the Bombing of Darwin, visit: www.darwin.nt.gov.au/community/things-to-do/community-celebrations/bombing-of-darwin