74th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin - Commemoration Ceremony at the Shrine in Melbourne
On Friday 19th February 2016 at The Shrine of Remembrance Veterans, representatives from all levels of Government, the ADF, The Consulate General of Japan, USA Consulate General Melbourne, families, teachers, students, members of ex-service organisations, and friends gathered to commemorate, reflect and acknowledge the sacrifice and courage of the members who served and died during the attacks on Australia especially Darwin, during 1942 – 1945.
Squadron Leader Glen Coy and the RAAF Museum, Point Cook provided a wonderful fly past of museum aircraft to mark the commencement of the Ceremony.
The Royal Australian Navy Band Melbourne provided the formal music for the ceremony.
Piper, Mr Alan Davidson played a moving lament whilst Veterans marched from the Flag Poles to the Flame. Students from Wesley College Glen Waverley and Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School held the Darwin Defenders Banner with pride. The March was led by the Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch President, Mr Alan Day KCSJ-FAMI and accompanied by veterans from Darwin 1942 – 1945.
Colonel John Coulson OAM RFD ED, Shrine Governor welcomed the attendees to the Shrine and spoke about the significance of the day.
Mr Tim Gurry OAM, Committee member of the Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch welcomed the many VIPS & guests and spoke movingly why it was so important to mark this anniversary with such an event.
Patron, Rear Admiral John Lord AM (Retired) gave the keynote address and was eloquent in speaking about the story of Darwin and spoke of the actual events during that time in and how important is to be able recognise the significance of conflict abroad but also here on our shores. How it has shaped our nation and will continue to do so. He reiterated the importance of why we commemorate, why we stop and remember and how this reminds us of our history, our development and growth as a great nation.
Representatives from State Parliament, The Consulate General of USA and Japan, Melbourne City Council, DVA, RSL State and Sub Branches, Shrine of Remembrance, ANZAC Centenary Committee, Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, AWAS, War Widows and Widowed Mothers Assoc of Victoria, No2 Squadron (RAAF) Assoc., War Widow’s Guild of Australia, Monash University, History Teachers of Victoria, and many others attended the service.
Students from the following schools attended the ceremony – Ashwood College, Puckapunyal Primary School, Siena College, Star of the Sea College, The King David School, Sandringham College, Wesley College Glen Waverley and Xavier College.
The importance of this ceremony can perhaps be best illustrated by the following note sent to the Committee by one of the attending schools… I just wanted to congratulate you on the very moving commemoration service for the Darwin Defenders this morning, and to thank you for your gracious welcome. The girls found the ceremony both moving and educational, and I think that they have come away from today’s service with a much greater understanding of the significance of the Darwin attacks in Australia’s history.
The Melbourne Committee of the Darwin Defenders acknowledges and is extremely grateful for the support of funding granted to them by the Victorian Veterans Council.
2016 Darwin Defenders Commemorative Ceremony:
Friday 19 February 2016 10:00am – Shrine Forecourt
The Darwin Defenders 1942-1945 Commemoration Ceremony will be held at the Shrine of Remembrance, on Friday February 19 2016 at 10:00am noon, the 74th anniversary of the day that Darwin was bombed and war came to Australia.
The ceremony will honour those who served and those who died during the attacks on Darwin during 1942 - 1945.
It is an opportunity for veterans, their families, dignitaries and school students from across Melbourne & regional Victoria to participate in a moving ceremony that aims to remind us all of the cost of preserving peace and democracy in Australia.
Following refreshments at 11:30am, John Thompson-Gray will present a public program in the Auditorium “Love, Luck and Larceny” - bookings for the talk are essential.
2015 Commemorative Ceremonies
During the year there are many commemorative ceremonies held at the Shrine of Remembrance.
The ceremonies honour the service and sacrifice of Australian men and women in war and peacekeeping. Our members attended the Battle for Australia Commemoration Day in September and also the Remembrance Day Ceremony in November.
Darwin Defenders members have also attended ceremonies honouring those men and women who sacrificed their lives in Malta and America. The 73rd Anniversary of Operation Pedestal – in honour of those lives lost at sea during the convoys to Malta.
The Pearl Harbour Remembrance Service held at the Shrine on Sunday 6th December was a time for reflection to remember those whose lives had been lost in the Hawaiian Islands in 1941. Our President, Alan Day KJSJ FAIM was honoured to be asked to recite the ode during the service.
June News: Memorial Day Service & Annual Bomber Command Commemorative Day Service
We have been able to organise a perpetual wreath for our group. This can now be used by any Committee Members attending ceremonies in the future.
Memorial Day Service
Mr Edward Bartosh, Secretary of the American Ex-Servicemen’s Association recited the following words at the laying of the wreaths: “Let us now bow our heads, and after placing the symbols of remembrance in this place of sacred memory, stand in silence as we remember all those who died in all wars in the defence of American freedom.”
IMAGE: Robyn Bell, Warren Sapir and Alan Day
Annual Bomber Command Commemorative Day Service
On Sunday, June 7th, Barry Greenwood joined Alan, Robyn and Bernadette at the Bomber Command Ceremony in the new Education Centre Auditorium at the Shrine. Mrs Jan Dimmick recited a truly beautiful reading:
Epitaph for a Rear Gunner by R.W. Gilbert
The pain has stopped,
For I am dead.
My time on earth is done.
But in a hundred years from now,
I’ll still be twenty-one.
My brief sweet life is over,
My eyes no longer see,
No summer walks,
No Christmas trees,
No pretty girls for me.
I’ve got the chop, I’ve had it,
My nightly ops are done.
Yet, in another hundred years
I’ll still be twenty-one.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was former Victorian premier and current Chairman of the Victorian Centenary of Anzac Committee, the Hon Ted Baillieu. He picked up on Jan’s “21 years” theme, remarking that WWII started 21 years after the Great War ended. We commemorate anniversaries like Anzac and the end of WWII, he said, for three reasons: to honour those who served, to educate current generations, and to pass the torch of remembrance on to future generations.
IMAGE: Alan Day KCSJ- FAMI with Bomber Command Veterans.
Darwin Defenders Ceremony – 73rd Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin
As the sun shone down over the Shrine of Remembrance, veterans, families, teachers, students and friends gathered to the, commemorate, reflect and acknowledge the sacrifice and courage of the members who served and died during the attacks on Australia especially Darwin, during 1942 – 1945.
Squadron Leader Glen Coy and the RAAF Museum, Point Cook provided a wonderful fly past of museum aircraft to mark the commencement of the Ceremony. The formal music for the ceremony was provided by the Royal Australian Navy Band – Melbourne Detachment.
To begin - a march from the flag poles to the flame, led by the Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch President, Mr Alan Day KCSJ-FAMI and accompanied by veterans from Darwin 1942 - Commander Herb Kriloff and Mr Reg Turner, assisted by members of the West Melbourne Branch of the Vietnam Veterans’ Association and the Shrine Guards.
Ms Michele Gallin, Vice-President of the Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch welcomed the many VIPS & guests and spoke movingly about the significance of the day to her and others by recounting some of the stories of her father (Mr James Tevlin) – a founding member of the Darwin Defenders.
Guest speaker Tim Gurry OAM, assisted by 3 year 6 student leaders from Puckapunyal Primary School, posed the question – Why Should We Commemorate the Bombing of Darwin?
He asked the young people to ask what ceremonies like today’s are really about. Is it enough to just acknowledge the ‘facts’ of history or is it more meaningful to focus on the values of the World War 2 generation. If we preserve their stories and honour their values, then the 19th of February will continue to be a significant date in Australian history.
Guest singer – Mr Gary Luck performed his wonderful song Blood on the Frangipani which he dedicated to his father and the other Darwin Defenders, both service and civilian who answered their country’s call. You can listen Gary’s song on the Darwin Defenders website: (www.darwindefenders.com.au)
Representatives from State Parliament, The Consulate General of USA and Japan, Melbourne City Council, DVA, RSL State and Sub Branches, Shrine of Remembrance, ANZAC Centenary Committee, Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, AWAS, War Widows and Widowed Mothers Assoc of Victoria, No2 Squadron (RAAF) Assoc., War Widow’s Guild of Australia, History Teachers of Victoria, Australia Maltese Association and many others attended the service.
Students from the following schools attended the ceremony – Ashwood College, Flinders Christian Community College, Flinders Christian Community College, John Monash Science School, Kilbreda College, Melbourne High School, Pakenham Secondary College, Puckapunyal Primary School, Siena College, South Oakleigh Secondary College, The King David School, Wesley College Glen Waverley, Xavier College.
The importance of this ceremony can perhaps be best illustrated by the following note sent to the Committee by one of the attending schools…
It was an honour to participate in the Commemoration Service at the Shrine on the 19th February 2015. We appreciate your warm welcome, unique performances and powerful stories. As teenagers growing up in Australia, we feel it is important to be involved in events like this and we thank you for inviting us to be a part of it.
The Melbourne Branch of the Darwin Defenders 1942-45, gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance from the Victorian Veterans Council – Commemoration and Education Grants Program. Additional donations from supportive RSL branches, the Freemasons and the War Widows and Widowed Mothers Association enabled the Committee to support Gary Luck in travelling to Melbourne to sing at the ceremony.
Darwin Defenders Commemorative Ceremony:
Thursday 19 February 2015 at 12 noon
Darwin Defenders 1942-1945 Commemoration Ceremony will be held at the Shrine of Remembrance, on February 19 2015 at 12 noon, the 73rd anniversary of the day that Darwin was bombed and war came to Australia.
The ceremony will honour those who served and those who died during the attacks on Darwin during 1942 - 1945. It is an opportunity for veterans, their families, dignitaries and school students from across Melbourne to participate in a moving ceremony that aims to remind us all of the cost of preserving peace and democracy in Australia.
Darwin Defenders 1942-45 Melbourne Branch day trip to HMAS Cerberus
2014 Ceremonial Divisions HMAS Cerberus
It was a beautiful sunny Melbourne day when several members of the Melbourne Branch - Mr Alan Day, Mrs Robyn Bell, Mr Bernie Anderson, Ms Michele Gallin & Ms Bernadette Lightfoot, took a day trip to HMAS Cerberus. Mr Brian Neal (our RSL Representative) along with several friends from the Running Rabbits Military Museum also joined them.
Following our request for a visit with Mrs Toni Munday, Curator of the HMAS Cerberus Museum, we discovered that Friday 28th November was a perfect day for visiting.
More than 500 sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen formed up for the HMAS Cerberus 2014 Ceremonial Divisions.
The Reviewing Officer for the parade was Commodore Phillip Spedding, DSC, OAM, RAN, while honoured guest Corporal Dan Keighran VC was invited to act as co-reviewing officer. Corporal Keighran is the third recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia to be awarded during the conflict in Afghanistan. It was a wonderful parade and ceremony with all participants marching past in perfect unison. Following this, our little group moved to the impressive Memorial Garden for a short prayer service at the Darwin Defenders 1942-45 Plaque.
We were delighted that Commander John Goss AM (RANR) was able to join us, whilst Alan Day led the group for the recitation of The Ode and Navy Poem.
Everybody enjoyed a delightful lunch break at the Crib Point Café before heading back to Melbourne – a return trip will be planned for Autumn 2015.
2014 Annual General Meeting
The 2014 Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch Annual General meeting was held on Friday 12th September 2014 at Bentleigh RSL.
Current serving committee members and several members of the Darwin Defenders veteran community attended the meeting.
Once the formalities of the AGM had been completed, Mr Tim Gurry of Ryebuck Media provided a wonderful visual Branch Report by taking the audience through the Darwin Defenders’ Website.
The website contains vital information about the Melbourne branch, the National Committee and more importantly the excellent educational resources for teachers and students looking to enhance their knowledge of those significant events from 1942-45.
The AGM also provided an appropriate opportunity for the new Patron – Rear Admiral John Lord AM (Retired) to be introduced and everyone was delighted to hear of John’s experience in the Naval Service and now as a much-valued member and Chairman of the Victorian Veterans’ Council. He also spoke passionately about the challenges ahead with returning service personal and that education was vital in ensuring that the sacrifices made by those in Darwin will always be remembered and commemorated.
We welcome the New President of the Melbourne Branch – Mr Alan Day KCSJ KSMI along with an additional Vice-President – Michele Gallin (daughter of Jim Tevlin).
Our general committee numbers have increased to 12, ensuring that the committee meetings will be lively and well attended.
Special mention also, regarding the much-appreciated donation by SQNLDR Graham Henry President No 2 Squadron to the Committee. This will certainly assist with the costs associated with the Commemoration Ceremony on 19th February 2015 at the Shrine.
Committee Members and guests enjoyed a convivial luncheon following the meeting and we are most grateful to the President & Staff at Bentleigh RSL for their kind donation of room hire and refreshments.
The Darwin Defenders Melbourne Branch AGM
The Darwin Defenders 1942-45 Melbourne Branch will hold its AGM and Luncheon on Friday 12th September starting at 11:00am at Bentleigh RSL.
Following the AGM, we will welcome our new Patron, Rear Admiral John Lord AM (Retired). There will then be a screening of the Darwin Defenders website produced by Ryebuck Media.
All details can be found in the Event Invitation PDF
72nd Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin
Joan Johnstone attended the 72nd Anniversary of the Bombing and writes to us from Darwin:
It is indisputable that the 19th of February 1942, was a day that fundamentally changed Australia. Peace depends our knowledge and understanding. It depends on us all being aware of just how terrible war really is.
It is almost impossible for most of us today to imagine what your experiences must have been and how deeply they must have marked your lives since…
Those words from a speech by the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Quentin Bryce at the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin in 2012.
The Commemorative Service, which I attended this year on the 72nd Anniversary of the Bombing, was a profoundly moving experience. Beginning with an overview of proceedings and a prayer from Chaplain Barry Porter RAN. The Darwin Army Band with the Darwin Choral Group played and sang that most poignant Woman’s Prayer, which was the anthem of those brave women taken at the fall of Singapore as Prisoners of War by the Japanese. Then followed the hymn Abide With Me.
In the distance could be seen a small aircraft flying joyously in the sun blue heaven, twirling and spinning around and the band started playing Those Amazing Young Men In Their Flying Machines – and we all sang along.
But very soon came the awful sound of the air raid warning wailing on and on and gradually fear entered our hearts, and we heard in the distance, but getting louder and louder, came the heavy bombers flying overhead again and again. Then followed round after round of sharp staccato rifle fire and the air was full of acrid gun smoke.
I was very glad to realize that this was an enactment – not real at all – and a prayer welled up in my heart that my children and their children would never have to endure what the people of Darwin and other places in the north of Australia had endured.
Yes, God willing I shall go back to Darwin next year.
We will remember them,
Lest we forget.
Joan Johnstone VF387885
John Patrick Leydon - 25/04/1923 to 12/03/2014
From the Eulogy – Lurline & Tony Carroll
Pat was born in the Victoria country town of Nagambie on 25th April 1923. He was lovingly brought up in the family home by his parents, Jack and Jessie, with his sister & brother Kathleen and Jim.
Pat’s world changed in 1939. He moved to Melbourne and secured employment in a plastics firm before the onset of WWII. Pat, of course, subsequently joined up and was soon posted to Darwin, joining the 65th AASL. The Anti-aircraft Searchlight Battery.
Pat was assigned the daunting task of plane spotting. How terrifying that must have been to a 19 year old actually being able to see the enemy pilots as the bombers flew overhead.
The Darwin Defenders were indeed unsung heroes.
After the war, now a married man, Pat returned from Cairns to Melbourne. He gained employment firstly in the Government Printing Office, and then with Jones & Co, the large construction firm. It was here that the learnt his trade of bricklaying.
Later, in the early 1950s, Pat accepted a better offer from the Victorian Railways, becoming in time, a supervisor, whose duties included helping the training of apprentices.
Soon after, Pat joined the Bentleigh RSL and became a valued member ably performing many duties.
Here I can do not better than tho quote from the Bentleigh RSL:
Esteemed Life Member
RSL Hall of Fame Inductee and Comrade”
And, from the Darwin Defenders: -
“Since the inception of our Association, Pat has served as Treasurer of both the National Association and the Melbourne Branch of the Darwin Defenders 1942-45 Inc.
He has been a faithful friend, a true mate to all the members of the Darwin Defenders.”
Further from the members of the 65th AASL Battery:
“We mourn the passing our esteemed President Pat. Born on ANZAC Day. He was a wonderful example of the ANZAC Spirit.
One of Pat’s favourite sayings was “Crawl before you can walk.” Another was: “’Carn the Blues”.
Pat loved the Carlton Football Club and would speak of their many flag wins, especially the infamous 1945 ‘Bloodbath’ Grand Final – Carlton downing South Melbourne to win their 7th Flag. That all-time champion big man Jack ‘Chooka’ Howell was his favourite player.
His other sporting hobbies included horse racing, and of course his golf. His was a member of the McKinnon Golf Club.
Pat officially retired in 1983, but continued to keep busy with the RSL, helping others and doing some part-time jobs.
For the last six years, Pat was cared for, with much love by his only child Eleanore. They did many happy and interesting things together. They enjoyed each other’s company, with Eleanore assisting Pat in of his RSL and Darwin Defenders functions.
One highlight was their trip to Darwin in February 2012. The occasion was to mark the 70th Anniversary of the commencement of the bombing of Darwin. More bombs were dropped in Darwin than on Pearl Harbour.
Pat was accorded the honour of laying the wreath to honour those past and present Melbourne members of the Darwin Defenders Association.
This historic event was held on the 19th February in the presence of the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, and many other VIPs, especially from the Defence Department and of course, the RSL.
Pat died on Wednesday 12th March and his passing is much mourned by all those who had the joy and honour of knowing him.
In conclusion, I feel it fitting that for Pat’s sake, and in this, the week of St Patrick, to farewell our friend with an Irish Blessing:-
“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
Darwin Defenders Ceremony - Tuesday 19th February 2014
The music performed by the Blackburn High School Band welcomed veterans, their families, VIPs and 250 school children from as far afield as Sale to the 72nd Anniversary Ceremony of the Darwin Defenders at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on Tuesday 19th February 2014.
This annual ceremony is to remember the sacrifice and courage of the members who served and died during the attacks on Australia especially Darwin, during 1942 – 1945.
Special Guests included:
- The Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria
- Air-Vice Marshall Chris Spence AO (Rtd), Chairman of Shrine Trustees
- Senator Helen Kroger, representing Federal Government
- Councillor Ken Ong, City of Melbourne
- Mrs Kim Furnish, US Consular Chief
- Mr Hidenobu, Consul General of Japan
- Lady Anna Cowen accompanied by Commander Herb Kriloff & his daughter Alix Bradfield
Guest speaker Tim Gurry, assisted by two students from Wesley College, posed the question – What does the bombing of Darwin have to do with you? He encouraged all present to explore some of the mysteries surrounding the bombing of Darwin and the impact that this event has had upon a wartime generation and generations since. Tim especially directed his remarks to the young audience and urged them to study Darwin as part of their Australian History curriculum and to do all they can to honour the veterans in their own communities and preserve their memories.
Mr Peter Harrington President of the Darwin Defenders re-enforced the importance of the bombing of Darwin and the determination of the Australian Defence members involved and the significance to Australia.
The Guard of Honour and the catafalque party was provided by Melbourne High School and the official band was the Australian Air Force Band.
All in attendance seemed genuinely moved by the ceremony and were seen to be swapping stories and exchanging wartime memorabilia. To see so many students laying wreaths that they had made themselves was a special highlight.
Congratulations and thanks to the organising committee (especially Bernadette Lightfoot) for presenting a significant and memorable ceremony.
Darwin Defenders Commemorative Ceremony: 19 February 2014
Darwin Defenders 1942-1945 Commemoration Ceremony will be held at the Shrine of Remembrance, on February 19 2014, the 72nd anniversary of the day that Darwin was bombed and war came to Australia.
The ceremony will honour those who served and those who died during the attacks on Darwin during 1942 - 1945. It is an opportunity for veterans, their families, dignitaries and school students from across Melbourne to participate in a moving ceremony that aims to remind us all of the cost of preserving peace and democracy in Australia. For more information visit our Get Involved page.
Download Program (PDF)
Battle for Australia Commemoration Day
Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne
The 2013 commemoration on 4th September was once again well attended with hundreds of school children taking part. The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Army Band performed beautifully and the student presentations provided a memorable highlight.
Students from secondary schools paid tribute to the Army nurses, the Australian Women's Army Service, radio operators, clerical workers, civilian workers and members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment.
Dr Rosalind Hearder's keynote address reminded us all of the wonderful work of women on the home front during World War 2.
The floral tributes, Last Post, national anthem and chaplain's blessing concluded what is a key commemorative event in Australia's military history.
Official opening of the Memorial Wall East Point Military Museum Darwin
The Memorial War provides a historical record of all Allied personnel who died as a result of combat action in the Northern Territory in WW2. The numbers of the fallen are:
Royal Australian Navy 66, Australian Army 207, Royal Australian Air Force 560, United States navy 121, United States Army Air Force including United States Army 331, Military Forces (other) 224 and Civilian 163.
The wall was officially opened by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and WW11 veteran Mr Brian Winspear AM.