During World War II, Darwin was a crucial part of Australia’s defense amid the outbreak of war in the Pacific.
Coastal defense batteries were established, and garrisons expanded in Darwin, which was frequently used as a base from which forces were deployed to aid in the defense of the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, against Japan.
Japan had become increasingly aggressive since the 1930s as it sought to conquer more territories and defeat China.
And in an effort to protect its military actions on Timor and invasion of Java, Japan executed the large-scale air raid on Darwin on February 19.
At least 252 service personnel and civilians were killed after more than 260 Japanese fighters and bombers hit Darwin’s port and shipping harbor twice during the day.
A ceremony was held today in Darwin’s Bicentennial Park to mark 80 years since the bombing.
Thousands of people were in attendance, including descendants of survivors and war veterans.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also present and paid respects to the memory of those who had lost their lives in the attack as well as those who lived through it.
“19 February 1942 marked an awakening. As the author Peter Grose argues, if the birth of Australia as a nation took place on the shores of Gallipoli, then it was on this day, at this place, that an independent Australia took charge of its destiny, “Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged the strong relationship Australia and Japan share today.
“That enemy that inflicted such violence on this city and this that nation, on this day, has now become one of our most trusted and loyal friends,” Mr Morrison said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was also in Darwin and said today was a day to remember the strength of Australians.
Terrifying WWII realities resurrected in captivating images
“Darwin showed the resilience, courage and strength of Australian culture,” Mr Albanese said.