Local News

Thousands attend 79th anniversary of Bombing of Darwin

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One of the last living veterans to serve in the Bombing of Darwin, Mervyn Ey sat proudly, marking 79 years since what still remains the deadliest attack on Australian soil.

At 99 years of age, it is a story of survival like no other.

Mr Ey was a private with the infantry regiment, based at Nightcliff, when a sky full of Japanese planes edged closer from the horizon, before bombing ships in the harbour – detonating the heart of the city.

Today, the sky was overcast, the air humid, as more than 2,500 people gathered at the Esplanade Cenotaph to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.

Wreaths were laid, flags raised, sirens sounded, guns fired in honour of the fallen.

236 people died, 11 ships were sunk and 30 aircraft were destroyed when the Japanese attacked for the first time, on February 19, 1942.

Time hasn’t dimmed the pain felt over Darwin’s darkest day.

Council CEO Scott Waters opened the ceremony, saying "it is indeed Darwin's story of sadness, defiance, bravery and loss all wrapped-up together."

The Australian Defence Force re-enacted the events of 1942, while World War 2 vintage aircraft flew by.

Administrator of the Northern Territory, Vicki O'Halloran reflected on the moments the national flag at Government House was attacked.

"Eventually all that remained of the largest white Commonwealth star was the outline," Her Honour O'Halloran said.

"Symbolic of the strength of spirit of the Darwin community, the flag continued to fly despite the battering."

She also paid tribute to those who continue to serve their country.

"Let us also reflect on the continuing contribution of the people of our ADF," Her Honour said.

"These remarkable Australians fought then as they continue to fight now for our ongoing safety, our freedoms and our way of life."

"To all our pilots, our soldiers, seamen, submariners, reserves, instructors, medical staff, cadets and officers, our heartfelt thanks."

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said it was wonderful to see so many school students at the service.

He said it is important to share Darwin's history with younger generations.

"Future generations will learn the horrors of war and the importance of preserving peace," Councillor Vatskalis said.

Next year marks the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.