New national day for Darwin bombing

By AAP with AG staff | November 18, 2011

A new national day to remember the 1942 bombing of Darwin in WWII has been proclaimed by the government.

FEBRUARY 19 IS TO  become a new national day of observance to commemorate the bombing raids by Japanese forces on Darwin in World War II, the federal government announced today.

“The anniversary of the first attack on Darwin can then join Anzac Day and Remembrance Day as a date Australians pause to remember those who served and sacrificed their lives in defence of this country,” Prime Minister Gillard said in a joint statement with Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin.

The prime minister has recommended to the governor-general that February 19 becomes known as Bombing of Darwin Day.

It will be up to individual states and territories to decide whether the day will become a new public holiday.

“This is not about celebrating war and it is certainly not about demonising Japan,” Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson said. “We are now firm friends with the Japanese people, firm trading partners and we are firm allies.”

New public holiday to remember Darwin bombing?

The minister said it was too early to know whether it would become a new public holiday in the Northern Territory.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack.

This year the Japanese consul-general from Sydney officially apologised for the bombing raid on Darwin, which left at least 243 people dead and caused half of Darwin’s population flee in fear.

“The anniversary of the first attack on Darwin can then join Anzac Day and Remembrance Day as a date Australians pause to remember those who served and sacrificed their lives in defence of this country,” the statement said.

Darwin Bombing Day applauded

Interest in the bombing raid on Darwin was heightened in the lead-up to US President Barack Obama’s visit to the USS Peary memorial on Thursday.

The American warship was sunk during the attack, causing the death of scores of US troops.

During two bombing raids, 242 aircraft bombed Darwin Harbour and nearby areas. Ultimately, the city endured 64 bombing raids by the Japanese over 18 months, destroying civic and military buildings, boats and aircraft.

Darwin’s Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer congratulated the federal government on the move to have a new national day of observance, which came after years of lobbying.

“The Darwin City Council has been lobbying successive Australian governments for many years to have this day recognised, he said in a statement. 

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