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    MEMORIAL: Darwin Defenders Horsham committee member Sheryl Bartlett at Sawyer Park. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Remembering the battle for Darwin

A Horsham group has urged the Wimmera community to recognise the 79th Darwin Defenders day on Friday despite COVID-19 restrictions forcing it to abandon its traditional school-commemoration service.

The Darwin Defenders Horsham committee is keen for Wimmera people to continue to acknowledge the major role forces played in the defence of Darwin during the Second World War.

Committee members Lynne Wright and Sheryl Bartlett are among people to stress the annual significance of the occasion and are keen for ‘the next generation’ to know and understand what happened.

“We’re extremely disappointed we can’t run our traditional school service. It is important to carry this tradition on to remind people of the significance of what the defenders experienced and what it meant,” Mrs Wright said.



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“The fact is that this defence of Darwin involved people from across Australia, with many people coming from the Wimmera. They weren’t army regulars. They were mostly untrained militia, which included people from all walks of life who were suddenly thrust into front-line defensive activities.

“We’re asking for people to take a few moments on Friday to recognise what that meant. There are so many people who don’t know about what happened and that’s why we want to keep it in the forefront of education.”

On February 19, 1942, when Japanese aircraft first attacked Darwin, many of the army personnel stationed at the northern city at the time called places such as Horsham, Natimuk, Murtoa, Kaniva and many other Wimmera settlements home.

Many of the soldiers, as well as being relatively untrained, had little ammunition to repel the enemy attack.

The attack, in two raids, included 242 Japanese aircraft and led to more bombs falling on Darwin than the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. 

It was the largest single attack a foreign power had mounted on Australia.

Annual Wimmera Darwin Defenders services are usually at Horsham’s Maroske Hall involving students, veterans and-or their families, organisation representatives and members of the general public.

The entire February 17, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!