Thousands of Australians on Saturday gathered in the Northern Territory (NT) to mark the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin carried out by 242 Japanese aircraft during World War II.
The official anniversary ceremony at Darwin’s Bicentennial Park saw throngs of attendees including veterans, survivors and politicians as the NT Government has called for the day to be made a national public holiday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Sirens blared at 9.58 a.m. to mark the exact time air raid sirens began on February 19, 1942.
The Bombing of Darwin started 64 air raids on the Top End of the NT, which continued until November 1943.
In the bombing of Darwin, 252 lives were tragically lost in two separate raids, including members of all three Australian armed services, allied personnel, merchant seamen and Australian civilians, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Throughout the city, little was spared — the post office, the cable office, the government house, police barracks, air force station and the local hospitals were attacked,” Morrison said at the ceremony.
Brian Winspear, 101, one of the last surviving veterans of the attack, told News Corp Australia that the bombing caught the defending forces by surprise.
“It was pretty scary and ever since then I’ve had hearing problems,” he said. “Nobody took any notice of the people dying around you.”
“Death was very normal, there were no funerals and no mourning. It was scary, it was a scary time,” he said.