Tuesday, 10 March 2015

2015 Bombing of Darwin ceremony

Old soldiers
Such a lot has been happening that I have not made time to post here.

A few weeks ago we had the Bombing of Darwin ceremonies. This is a National Day of Significance and marks the first time, on 19 February 1942, that Australian soil was ever bombed by an enemy. The ceremony is a major event in Darwin and visitors come from far away to attend. It is extremely moving.

This is the Peary memorial. The gun points to the wreck.
I am sure you know that the enemy was the same squadron that had earlier bombed Pearl Harbour. The difference was that in the instance of Pearl Harbour the US Government had been warned by New Zealand that the attack was imminent, but there was no intelligence to indicate that northern Australia was the next target. When a warning was sent to Darwin from the Tiwi Islands early on the day it was not believed. This is the way of war.

Soloists entertaining the crowd.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
The band played wonderfully well.
The choir is at the back of the tent.
Before our ceremony at the cenotaph there was another ceremony at the Peary memorial in honour of the 88 US servicemen who lost their lives in the first raid. The USS Peary remains at the bottom of the harbour and is clearly marked by a yellow buoy. This is a registered War Grave. I see this buoy every day from my home.

Few of us are able to take time off work for this ceremony.
It is not a public holiday.
The music for the ceremony was played by the Australian Army Band supplemented by the Arafura Wind Ensemble. My choir sang. A trio of singers entertained the crowd prior to the commencement of the ceremony.

Another ceremony was held down at the wharf where many workers and sailors lost their lives. One of the casualties was the hospital ship Manunda; no survivors. Captain William Michie, a relative of my husband, died on the MV Neptuna that day. It was carrying munitions.

The vintage plane
that flew over
We had a huge crowd. Soldiers old and new wore their medals proudly. Solemn speeches brought tears to the eye. Many wreaths were laid. School children took part. A vintage plane flew over followed by fighter jets from the Australian Air Force. The Army provided a re-enactment of a scene from that dreadful day.

The photos above are not mine. The big ones are from Eleanor Wilks a local professional photographer. The small photos are from the NT News our local newspaper. (I was at the back of the tent during the ceremony of course.)
This was taken before the ceremony.
It just shows part of the preparation for the re-enactment.
The cenotaph is on the left where you see flags.
Beyond the fence is a cliff and the harbour.

There were two huge pavilions like this and some smaller tents.
After they were filled the crowd stood under the trees.
It had been raining quite a lot and the ground was boggy.
These two photos are mine and were taken while we waited for everything to be ready. It was extremely hot and humid. Perspiration dripped from our chins. But the officers and military personnel in uniform and guests in suits never indicated they were uncomfortable.


  1. You have a choir?! tell us more please......

    1. Phil, I am a member of the Darwin Chorale.I am never a soloist, and bumble along as a second alto. We have first and second sopranos, first and second altos, first and second tenors and also basses. All are welcome. The Darwin Chorale auditions members not to say if you can or can not belong, but to say where in the choir you would fit best. I joined when they decided to perform Carmina Burana. This year we are rehearsing for The Armed Man which will be performed on Anzac Day. I love everything about this work. Some is in Latin, some in French, some in English. We have soloists for the special bits. I believe that everyone can sing, although it is tough to find your style. Remember Tibetan throat singing? Singing has benefits for our physical and mental health.

    2. Fascinating! I have been a church organist for 30 years until we moved to NSW - all the churches we attend here are all happy-clappy music (not a problem, just not my preference).
      I love choirs and am addicted to looking at Kings college choir on youtube and others too.


Comments are welcome. Every comment on every blog contributes to linking people from many different countries and cultures. Eventually we create a more peaceful and understanding world.