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Darwin Defenders unveiling war history

WE MUST REMEMBER: Darwin Defender Angus Scott, 96, pictured in his Horsham home, is the sole survivor of his battalion. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

WE MUST REMEMBER: Darwin Defender Angus Scott, 96, pictured in his Horsham home, is the sole survivor of his battalion. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

By Colin MacGillivray
The feats of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and Kokoda are etched into Australia’s collective consciousness.
But for many, the largest attack on the country by a foreign nation remains a mystery.
Tuesday will mark the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin by Japan during the Second World War.
More than 180 aircraft attacked Darwin at 9.58am on February 19, 1942.
The town was completely unprepared.
Hundreds of allied soldiers and civilians were killed in the bombing, which targeted ships in the harbour and other locations across the city.
Among the soldiers stationed at Darwin during the attack was Horsham’s Angus Scott, a member of the 19th Machine Gun Battalion.
“We thought they were our own planes coming in because they came from inland,” he said.
“We thought they were ours until the bombs came whistling down.
“We had nothing to defend ourselves with anyhow, even if we had known they weren’t ours.
“There were plenty of bloody planes there and none of them were ours.”

Darwin Defender Angus Scott, pictured third from right.

Darwin Defender Angus Scott, pictured third from right.

The attack was the first and largest of 64 Japanese air raids in northern Australia during 1942 and 1943.
“That was only one raid and they came back again the same day,” he said.
“After the day raids they started doing night raids, which was even scarier because you could hear them but you couldn’t see them.
“A bombing raid is a bombing raid and there is no one better than the other, but the night ones were scary.”
Mr Scott recalled many soldiers having rifles but no ammunition.
“If the Japanese had landed they could’ve come straight through without any resistance,” he said.
“Nothing could have stopped them.”
Mr Scott said news of the attack was censored and suppressed in Australian media.
“I think if you’re going into a war zone you’re entitled to know what’s going on,” he said.
“It was such a mix up that the Prime Minister was trying to make it sound a lot better than what it was, and people down south were in the dark about it. They didn’t know what was going on.
“In a nutshell, we were sent to the wolves in my opinion.”
At 96, Mr Scott is one of the last living members of his battalion.
He said it was important for people to remember the Japanese attack at Darwin and its significance for the country.
Darwin Defenders Horsham committee secretary Lynne Wright agreed learning about the bombing was important.
“The government put so much censorship on it and part of the aim of the Darwin Defenders organisation is to get it in the school curriculum,” she said.
“It’s part of Australian history and because of the censorship it was never taught.
“Even thought I come from a big service family, my kids couldn’t tell you much about it because they weren’t taught it at school.
“It’s an important part of our history. We don’t want to glorify it, we want to make sure it never happens again.”
Each year Darwin Defenders host a service in Horsham to teach students about the attack.
This year’s service will be at Horsham College’s Ian Maroske Hall from 9.45am.
Mrs Wright encouraged members of the public to attend.
“If you’ve got kids involved in the service we’d encourage you to attend,” she said.
“We’re encouraging people, particularly students, to take ownership of it because there aren’t too many people left that were there.
“A lot who were there wouldn’t talk about it, and it was only in their later years that they felt they needed to pass the story on for the younger generations.
“Hopefully it doesn’t get forgotten because it is part of our history.”
Guest speaker for this year’s service will be Horsham Rural City councillor Pam Clarke.
People attending the ceremony should be seated by 9.45am.
Tea and coffee will be provided after the service.
Mrs Wright said people wanting more information could call her on 0438 215 825.

Darwin Defender Angus Scott, 96, in his Horsham home.

Darwin Defender Angus Scott, 96, in his Horsham home.

The entire February 13, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Feb 13 2019

Posted by on Feb 13 2019. Filed under Community, Education, FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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