Residents, local government officials and aviators from RAAF Base Tindal recently stopped to remember a dark day in Australia’s history: the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Katherine on March 22.
CAPTION: Wing Commander Shane Smith lays a wreath during the bombing of Katherine commemoration ceremony at Katherine, Northern Territory. Story by Flight Lieutenant Dee Irwin. Photo by Sergeant Pete Gammie.
The town of Katherine, about 300km south of Darwin, marks the southern-most point of Japanese bombing raids on the Northern Territory.
During World War II, and shortly after the deadly attack on Darwin on February 19, 1942, the township of Katherine was attacked by the Japanese.
On March 22, 1942, nine ‘Betty’ bombers from the Japanese Navy dropped around 90 high-explosive bombs known as ‘Daisy Cutters’ on the Katherine airfield.
The raid by the Japanese resulted in one fatality, an Indigenous man by the name of Dodger Kodjalway.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Katherine and the event was marked with a commemorative service, held at the Katherine airfield, which is now occupied by the Katherine Museum.
Senior ADF officer at RAAF Base Tindal, Wing Commander Shane Smith, attended the service to reflect and remember the life of Dodger Kodjalway, those that were injured in the attack and to pay tribute to the military personnel who have served in Katherine over the years.
Wing Commander Smith said that Katherine was targeted by the bombing raid due to the large numbers of military personnel stationed in the town during the war.
“While damage to infrastructure was limited and just one life lost, the attack changed Katherine in many ways and it continues to impact people’s lives to this day,” Wing Commander Smith said.
“The strength and resilience of the residents of Katherine at the time of the bombing needs to be highlighted.”
Eighty years since the Australian mainland came under attack, it is important that we continue to understand and preserve our nation’s history by coming together to remember and pay respects to the memory, sacrifice and contribution of those lives lost and to thank those who serve and continue to serve.
Lest we forget.