Darren Chester MP, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs
At 9.58am on February 19, 1942, Japanese aircraft began the first of two bombing attacks on the city of Darwin, signalling the moment the Second World War was brought to our shores.
Lieutenant Owen Griffiths recounted the attacks, the air over the harbour was comfortable full of Japanese dive bombers and fighter planes. There seemed just sufficient room between each to allow the next one to manoeuvre. There were so many planes diving and twisting about that at first I thought the enemy planes were having dog-fights with our planes.
The attack lasted for 40 minutes, with the Japanese sinking eight of the 47 ships in the harbour. Eighty minutes later, the second attack started, this time concentrating on the Royal Australian Air Force station, which was further inland.
Attacks would continue on towns across Australia’s north, including Katherine, Broome, Townsville, Wyndham and Cairns, with the final attack on Darwin on November 12, 1943.
Tragically, Australia and its allies lost around 900 people, 77 aircraft and several ships, with many military and civilian facilities destroyed.
In November last year, Darwin hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-the first visit to Darwin by a Japanese Prime Minister since the bombing raids during the Second World War.
While Australia, and in particularly the Northern Territory, will never forget the events of February 19, 1942, they will remember this historic visit by Mr Abe as a sign of great respect to those who served and died during the Second World War.
We remember and honour all those who served and died protecting our shores more than 75 years ago. Lest we forget.