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The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
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Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

19 February 2017

75th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin

THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP
PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. DAN TEHAN MP
MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

SENATOR THE HON. NIGEL SCULLION
MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

Today, we mark an important date in our history: the 75th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.

At 9.58am on 19 February, 1942, Japanese aircraft began bombing the city of Darwin.

We remember that more than 240 people were killed during two attacks on that day. The bombing was indiscriminate, killing military and civilian, men and women, young and old.

It remains the single largest and most devastating attack by a foreign power on our nation and it brought war to Australian shores for the first time.

The Bombing of Darwin also marked the start of an air campaign against northern Australia that saw many towns bombed, including Broome, Wyndham, Port Hedland and Derby in Western Australia, Katherine in the Northern Territory, Townsville and Mossman in Queensland, and Horn Island in the Torres Strait.

From the first raid on 19 February 1942 until the last on 12 November 1943, Australia and its allies lost about 900 people, 77 aircraft and several ships. Many military and civilian facilities were destroyed.

Darwin alone was bombed 64 times.

Today is an opportunity to remember the lives lost and the courageous actions of those who defended Darwin. We must never forget their service and sacrifice.

The 75th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin is also an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we have been that war has rarely visited our country.

We are grateful for all the men and women who volunteer to serve in defence of our nation, our values and our way of life. We owe them an enormous debt.

A national commemoration organised by the Northern Territory Government recognised the anniversary at the Cenotaph on the Darwin Esplanade today. An air raid siren sounded at 9.58am to mark the precise time the first attack took place.

Among the dignitaries to attend today’s commemoration were the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), His Excellency Mr Sumio Kusaka, Ambassador of Japan and USA Embassy Charge d’Affaires James Carouso.

The attendance of the senior representatives of Japan and the USA is a strong sign of the friendship our countries share and the respect we have for each other.

The Bombing of Darwin Day has been a national day of observance since 2011.

Media Contacts:

Prime Minister’s office: Daniel Meers – 0419 576 961
Minister Tehan’s office: Byron Vale - 0428 262 894
Minister Scullion’s office: Ben Houston - 0429 236 016

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.