City of Darwin will hold a commemorative service at The Cenotaph on The Esplanade today to mark the 78th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, with thousands of locals and visitors from across Australia and around the world expected to turn out.
The annual Bombing of Darwin Day marks the day, in February 1942, Darwin experienced the first ever enemy attack on Australia soil.
Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said the annual service provides the community and visitors alike with an opportunity to honour those who died during the bombing.
“On this National Day of Observance, we take the time to reflect on the moment when World War 11 arrived on Australia shores. We remember those who bravely defended, those who were evacuated and those who lost their lives,” said Lord Mayor Vatskalis.
Two Bombing of Darwin veterans, who were in Darwin during the bombing, along with the son of a crewman from the USS Peary, one of eight ships hit and sunk during the bombing, will all be attending the service.
Sam Logan, whose father Samuel Logan survived the sinking of the USS Peary, is travelling from California in the United States for the first time to attend the event. Mr Logan will be sharing his father’s experience in the early part of the war, specifically the story of Australians who saved his father’s life following the sinking of the USS Peary.
Mr Logan will be joined by Bombing of Darwin veterans Basil Stahl and Mervyn Ey as guests of honour at the service.
The Lord Mayor said he was delighted to welcome Mr Logan and the two WW11 veterans to Darwin for the commemorative service.
“The presence of veterans at the commemorative service bestows upon us a great honour. They fought for peace in our country and that must never be forgotten nor taken for granted,” Lord Mayor Vatskalis said.
“This National Day of Observance is a time to reflect, learn and tell stories. By doing so, future generations will learn the horrors of war and the importance of preserving peace.”
Guests are asked to be seated before 9.30am, with the Order of Service commencing at 9.40am sharp.
The Order of Service includes music and vocals from the Australian Army Band Darwin, Darwin Chorale, a speech by former fighter pilot, Wing Commander and World Champion Red Bull Air Racer Matt Hall, and Catafalque Party taking post.
An air raid siren will sound at 9.58am, the exact time the first bombs hit Darwin.
City of Darwin will hold a free entry afternoon at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility on Tuesday 18 February from 4 – 7pm with Matt Hall in attendance and 50% off entry fees on Wednesday 19 February. In addition, City of Darwin are subsidising seats on the 11am Sea Darwin Bombing of Darwin Cruises Monday 17 – Thursday 20 February.