Alec Fong Lim
Family owned business, Darwin
Alec Fong Lim was born in Katherine in 1931, and moved to Darwin with his family in 1938.
His family was always in business; running general stores, cafes and tailor shops, before
moving into hotels and wholesaling. His father, George Lim, was the first Chinese-Australian
to buy a shop in the ‘white sector’ of Darwin, next door to the Star Theatre on Smith Street.
The business was a success, and every family member worked in the shop.
The family was evacuated to Katherine prior to the first bombing of Darwin and then moved
on to Alice Springs after Katherine was bombed. Alec went to boarding school, Scotch
College, in Adelaide in 1944. He was the only Chinese-Australian boarder.
Returning to Darwin in 1946, Alec commenced a successful business career at the age of
16. He married Norma Chin in 1955, and they had six daughters. A keen sportsman and
active in community affairs, Alec was elected Lord Mayor of Darwin in 1984, a position he
held until ill-health forced him to resign in 1990.
Alec was a strong advocate of multiculturalism, urging a balance between the retention of
cultural traditions and pride in being Australian. He died in September 1990, barely a month
after relinquishing the role of Lord Mayor. The main road through East Point Recreation
Reserve, Alec Fong Lim Drive, is named after him, as is the man-made lake in the midst of
the same reserve, Lake Alexander.
Darwin Infantry Battalion
Alex Rigby was born in 1916 in Sydney and was a school cadet prior to joining the 55/53rd
Battalion in 1937. He was commissioned in January 1939, and came to Darwin on the SS
Zealandia in February 1941 to join the Darwin Infantry Battalion, which absorbed the Darwin
After the war, Alex returned to Sydney and joined the family firm, Kell & Rigby, as a builder
and quantity surveyor. He retired after 51 years with the company. He was the first President
of the Darwin Infantry Battalion Association and often returned to Darwin for commemorative
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin> | All Years 1
Wing Commander Archibald Tindal
Area Defence Officer
Royal Australian Air Force
Archibald Tindal was born in Hampshire, England, in January 1916. In September of that
year his father was killed on the Somme, one of the bloodiest battlefields of World War I.
Archibald grew up in Armidale, New South Wales, and joined the Royal Australian Air Force
(RAAF) as a cadet pilot in 1934. He quickly moved up the ranks, and by 1939 he was a
Flight Lieutenant. With the onset of war he continued to advance; he was made Squadron
Leader in 1940 and then Wing Commander in January 1942. At this time he was the Area
Defence Officer of the RAAF’s Northern Area Headquarters.
Archibald was killed in action at the RAAF base in Darwin. His death is believed to be the
first RAAF fatality in actual combat on Australian soil. He is buried in the Adelaide River War
Cemetery. The RAAF airfield at Katherine, which also serves as a domestic airport, is
named after him.
Official War Artist
In 1924, Arthur Murch abandoned his career as an engineering draughtsman in Sydney to
become a full-time artist. His sculptural work won him the 1925 New South Wales (NSW)
Travelling Art Scholarship and allowed him to go to Europe and explore paintings ‘as if I
were a pilgrim traversing the years’. He travelled widely in Italy and was strongly influenced
by the work of the Italian Primitives and Renaissance artists. When he returned to Australia
in 1927, he worked as George Lambert's studio assistant until Lambert's death in 1930.
Sculptural commissions dominated these years.
After a sojourn in Europe from 1936 to 1940, Arthur began to experiment with Modernist
developments in colour and form. His notes from that time show his fascination with the work
of the French Impressionists, Cézanne and Seurat. He began teaching modelling and
drawing at East Sydney Technical College in the 1930s, and returned there after his years
as an official war artist.
Arthur was appointed as an official war artist for six months during World War II, to cover the
military activities of United States forces in Central Australia, Darwin and on Thursday
Island. In particular, Arthur was to paint a portrait of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme
Commander of the Allied Forces in the south-west Pacific. However, this proposal was
abandoned. Instead, it was decided that Arthur should depict military activities in the
Northern Territory, such as the Japanese raids on Darwin. In November 1942, whilst in
Darwin, Arthur's health collapsed and he was admitted to hospital. On returning to Sydney in
February 1943, Arthur was diagnosed with a streptococcal infection. Consequently, his
appointment as an official war artist concluded on 17 May 1943.
Arthur won the Archibald Prize in 1949 with a portrait of fellow artist Bonar Dunlop, and was
represented in the touring exhibition ‘Art and Australia 1788–1941’, presented by the
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 2
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (1941–45). After his death in 1989, Arthur was given
a tribute exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW (1990) and a retrospective exhibition of his
work toured regional NSW in 1992. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery
of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and most state and regional galleries.
Administrator of Northern Territory
Wife of Aubrey Abbott
Serving in the 12th Light Horse Regiment during World War I, Aubrey Abbott, (1886–1975),
fell ill in the Sinai and was invalided to England in 1916. While in London he married Hilda
Harnett (1890–1984), before returning to his regiment for the remainder of the war. He
continued to serve in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) until February 1920.
Aubrey and Hilda settled in country New South Wales and Aubrey entered politics, winning
the Federal seat of Gwydir in 1925. He served in the seat, with the exception of the years
1929–1931, until 1937, when he was appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory.
In a time of industrial dispute and impending war, Aubrey Abbott was widely regarded as
insensitive and arrogant. He alienated the union movement, was considered paternalistic in
regards to Aboriginal affairs, and generally obstructive when working with the military in
planning for the defence of Darwin in the event of a Japanese attack. Hilda was active in
Darwin society, although her conservative moral outlook often clashed with the free-and-
easy manners of the Top End.
Aubrey Abbott vigorously defended himself against a range of allegations presented in the
1942 Lowe Royal Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the Japanese air-raid of 19
February. Many of these allegations were based on rumour and innuendo and had little or no
basis in fact. However, some were true, particularly those regarding his poor relationship
with the military leadership in Darwin.
Hilda and Aubrey both worked hard to effect an orderly evacuation after the events of 19
February 1942, and Aubrey remained in Darwin until 2 March. He joined Hilda in Alice
Springs and continued to work in a limited capacity as Administrator from there until he
returned to Darwin in July 1945. Less than a year later he left the Territory on sick leave and
was replaced immediately.
Despite this, Aubrey and Hilda continued to advocate for the Territory through newspaper
articles and publications. Aubrey died in 1975 and Hilda passed away in 1984.
‘The Territory has been an unlucky child. Nobody loved it. Many legislators regarded it as the
bastard child of the Australian family. Nevertheless I have complete faith in its future.’
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 3
Mechanic /Trucking contractor
Air Raid Precautions (ARP)
Ben Hingston was born in rural Tasmania in 1904. He was a skilled mechanic and pilot who
had travelled across Australia seeking work in a range of areas. In 1939, he bought a car
and a truck in Sydney and advertised for paying passengers to Darwin. Upon arrival he
began a partnership in a mechanical engineering business, a move that was very successful
in the boom conditions of Darwin prior to the Japanese bombings.
Ben was in charge of transport for the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) operations and swung into
action when the first Japanese attack occurred. He assisted in rescue work and evacuations
until the 13th raid on Darwin. Enough was enough. By war’s end he had a truck sales and
repair business in Townsville and moved quickly to purchase war-surplus trucks in Alice
Springs. Before the end of 1945 Ben had the first civilian contract to offload cargo on the
Darwin wharves. So successful was this venture that other haulers soon formed the Darwin
Truck Owners’ Association in order to compete with him. In later years he had a number of
garages and dealerships in the Northern Territory and interstate.
Typist in Censor’s Office
Northern Territory Administration
Betty Duke (nee Page) was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, in 1917. In February 1939,
she accompanied her sister and her family to Darwin. When war broke out she volunteered
with the hospital and got a job with the Censor’s Office as a typist. She was at work when
the Japanese first bombed Darwin. She grabbed her first-aid kit and ran to help but was hit
by shrapnel and suffered a head wound and burns to her body. Forced to run for cover she
fled the hospital; then the second bombing raid began. She was evacuated to Adelaide and,
after her recovery, worked for munitions in Melbourne and Sydney for the duration of the
She married Mack Duke in 1948, having first met him in Darwin in 1939 when he served with
the Darwin Mobile Force.
‘Mack, my husband, whom I met in Darwin, he couldn’t have been a better person, because I
knew that I was the one and only thing in his life.’
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Northern Territory Administration
Betty Humble (nee Hayles) was born in Townsville in 1923 and came to Darwin in 1930 with
her family. Her father, Jack Hayles, operated the government boat-run to the Daly and
Victoria Rivers, Cape Don Lighthouse, Bathurst Island and Port Essington. Betty worked at a
number of jobs, including dental assistant, switchboard operator, shop assistant and finally
typist with the Northern Territory Administration.
Her future husband, Peter Humble, arrived in Darwin in 1938, with the advance party of the
Darwin Mobile Force. They married two days before her mother was evacuated in December
1941. Betty was evacuated in January 1942, after her husband expressed his fear that an
attack was in the offing.
Able Seaman Bill Chipman
Anti-Submarine Boom Defence
Royal Australian Navy
Trevor William (Bill) Chipman was born in Tasmania in 1920. He was called up for naval
service in 1939, and came to Darwin on the SS Montoro in March 1941. Most of his service
was with the anti-submarine boom defence, both in the depot and on HMAS Kangaroo and
He was on the Kangaroo during the first Japanese air-raid on Darwin and was manning a
Lewis gun. He was involved in salvage work after the raids.
Bill left Darwin in October 1942, but returned for further service in 1944. Apart from these
years he has lived in Tasmania: 30 years in Hobart and the remainder in Launceston. He
has returned to Darwin for commemorative services and events.
‘I was thinking that there might have been a lot of people from the boom defence … but to-
date I’ve met only two people … and one of those, strangely enough, happened to be my
offsider on the Lewis gun on the Kangaroo; and that was a great thrill for me and a great
thrill for Frank Hirsch himself too, who never expected to meet up with me.’
Civilian Radio Operator
Department of Civil Aviation
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Bruce Acland was born in Sydney in 1920. He came to Darwin in mid-1940, as a civilian
radio operator with the Department of Civil Aviation, and remained until October 1942. He
experienced many Japanese air-raids and survived several near-misses during the
bombings and strafings.
Bruce received a King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct in June 1943. The citation reads:
‘Radio Operator Acland, who was on duty at Darwin during the first and many subsequent
raids, stuck to his post and sent out an alarm signal while the radio hut was under machine-
Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 1943
‘I personally received recognition, buts it’s a decoration that I’ve never worn. I’ve been told
by people who should know that what I said couldn’t possibly have happened. I’ve been told
by a RAAF bloke that all the civilians were evacuated out of Darwin. That’s what he honestly
believed. I put him right. But he sort of challenged the fact that I’d been there.’
Bruce eventually moved into the more technical side of radio operations and constructed
systems for aerodromes around the country. He has returned to Darwin as a visitor on many
Charles See Kee
Private Secretary to Northern Territory Administrator
Northern Territory Administration
Charles See Kee was born in Hong Kong in 1913. His father had an import/export business
operating from Thursday Island and, as a child, Charles travelled between Australia, Japan
and China. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree at university he worked for his father’s
business and then managed a British brewery in China. When the Japanese invaded China
in 1938 he left for Australia, arriving in Darwin to stay with his brother.
Charles was the first Chinese to be employed in the Northern Territory Public Service,
initially with the Department of Lands, and then as a private secretary to the Administrator,
Aubrey Abbott. He was active in the community, particularly in creating recreation
opportunities for the Chinese in Darwin, and was a member of the Air Raid Precautions
(ARP) operations during the war years.
Having escaped the bombing of Darwin, Charles was evacuated to Alice Springs where he
joined the air force as a radio operator, despite not being an Australian citizen or having an
Australian passport. He returned to Darwin in 1946, married a third-generation Chinese-
Australian and opened a small, but successful, electronics business. He continued to have a
strong role in the Darwin community, and was President of the Chamber of Commerce, a
founder of the Chung Wah Society and a Darwin City Council alderman. In 1988 he was
awarded the Order of Australia.
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One of many commemorations in Charles See Kee’s name is a Leadership Scholarship
through Charles Darwin University and a Northern Territory multicultural award, which
recognises individuals, organisations and initiatives that have made an outstanding
contribution to advancing multiculturalism and counteracting racism in the Northern Territory.
Matron Clara Jane Schumack
Matron, HMAHS Manunda
Australian Army Nursing Service
Clara Jane Schumack was born on 17 June 1899, at Dark Corner, New South Wales. She
trained as a nurse in Sydney and was registered on 4 November 1926.
Clara had a reputation as a first-rate theatre sister. At 5 ft 10 inches (175 cm) she was tall
and broad-shouldered, with a purposeful stride and an upright bearing.
Appointed matron in the Australian Army Nursing Service, Clara was posted to the hospital
ship, the HMAHS Manunda. After a ‘shakedown’ voyage to Darwin in August, the vessel
made four trips to the Middle East between October 1940 and September 1941.
The Manunda sailed for Darwin in January 1942. During the first Japanese air-raid on the
town on 19 February, the vessel suffered several hits: 12 people on board were killed and 18
seriously wounded. Throughout the attack Clara calmly and efficiently supervised the
nursing of the wounded and dying.
Following a period ashore while the Manunda underwent repairs, Clara reboarded the ship in
August for what was to be the first of the Manunda’s 27 voyages to Papua and New Guinea
during World War II. Clara served at a variety of army hospitals during the war achieving the
rank of Lieutenant Colonel before leaving the army in 1946.
In June 1945, Clara was awarded the Royal Red Cross: the citation emphasised her
‘exceptional devotion to duty’, especially when the Manunda was bombed in Darwin.
Transferred to the Reserve of Officers in early 1947, Clara served as matron at Lithgow
District Hospital and then at the Lucy Gullett Convalescent Home, Bexley. She died on 23
December 1974, at Strathfield, Sydney.
Wife of Darwin Solicitor
Dorothea Lyons and her husband, John ‘Tiger’ Lyons first arrived in the Northern Territory in
the early 1930s. Initially intending to stay for only a short period, the Lyons family remained
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in Darwin until 1975. John was a solicitor and purchased a legal practice when they first
arrived. He later served a term as Lord Mayor of Darwin.
Most of the Lyons’ six children were born in Darwin, but the lack of secondary education
meant that they all left after primary school to attend boarding schools interstate. Dorothea
and four of her children were evacuated to Sydney just prior to the bombing of Darwin.
In 1948, the Lyons family leased the old British Australian Telegraph residence, purchasing
the property four years later. For many years the 1925 building, on the corner of the
Esplanade and Knuckey Street, was known locally as BAT House. In honour of its post-war
occupants, the building became known as Lyons Cottage, a name it still retains to this day.
Edith Vaughan and Ada Foster
Daughters of Darwin Boarding House Owner
Sisters Edith Vaughan and Ada Foster (nee Pearse) came to Darwin in 1912 with their
family. Their father ran a boarding house in Cavenagh Street and both girls helped their
parents with the running of the business. They met and married their future husbands whilst
in Darwin. Evacuated in December 1941 on the SS Zealandia, both sisters returned post-war
and lived out their lives in Darwin.
Father John McGrath
Bathurst Island Mission
Father John McGrath was a Catholic missionary who served at the Bathurst Island Mission
(Tiwi Islands) for 21 years. During World War II he also worked as a coast watcher. He
arrived on the island in 1926, and eventually took charge of the mission before retiring due to
ill health in 1948. He died in 1982.
Father McGrath sent the first warning to the mainland of the approaching Japanese aircraft
on the morning of 19 February 1942. Moments later, the small radio-room from where the
warning had been sent, the adjoining church, and the nearby airstrip were strafed by
Japanese Zeros. It was not until the evening that further contact could be made with the
mainland and that news of the bombing of Darwin was received.
A report written after the war by RAAF Flying Officer SH Moore described the importance of
Father McGrath’s role during the war years: ‘Always exposed to danger, without any
recompense or recognition and without the protection afforded to regular service personnel,
he kept up the moral of natives and ensured their loyalty to this country during the war.’
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 8
Pilot Hajime Toyoshima
Prisoner of War
Japanese Imperial Navy
Hajime Toyoshima graduated as a pilot in July 1941 and flew patrol during the attack on
Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. During that event, he was not actively involved in
attacking ships, aircraft or facilities: he was to experience his first taste of combat on the
morning of 19 February 1942, as part of the Darwin attack force.
After completing his part in the bombing raid, Toyoshima was returning to the aircraft carrier
group when his plane malfunctioned due to a single bullet-hole in the oil tank – damage that
would have occurred during his strafing run. He was forced to crash-land on Melville Island.
Toyoshima wandered in the bush until he came across a small group of Aboriginal women.
The women kept their distance and awaited the return of their men from a hunting
expedition. When the men returned the next day the women informed them of the situation
and Matthias Ulungura (also called Ngapiatilawai) arrested Toyoshima, took him to the
mission on Bathurst Island and handed him over to Sergeant Leslie Powell. Word of his
capture was radioed to Darwin: Ulungura had captured the first prisoner of war on Australian
Toyoshima gave a fake name and rank, as well as false details as to how he ended up on
Melville Island. He was escorted to the prisoner-of-war camp at Cowra under the name
Tadao Minami and died in the mass breakout on 5 August 1944. To the end he did not
reveal his true name.
Typist, Taxation Office
Northern Territory Administration
Daughter of Post Master, Darwin Post Office
Iris Bald first came to Darwin with her family in 1928, when she was seven years old. Her
father, Hurtle Bald, came to work in the Darwin Post Office and the family stayed for six
years. In 1940, he volunteered to return to Darwin as the Postmaster and brought his wife,
Alice, and daughter Iris, then 19, with him. His son Peter remained in Adelaide to complete
his education. Iris worked with the taxation office but lived with her parents at a residence
next door to the post office.
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In the event of an air raid it was arranged that Iris would go to a trench at the taxation office.
However, she happened to be at the post office when the raid began on 19 February 1942,
and it was natural for her to join her parents in the trench in the gardens of their house.
Earlier that morning, Iris had made a date to go to the Star Theatre that evening with a group
of young people, including Les Penhall who worked at the Native Affairs Branch of the
Northern Territory Administration.
Iris was one of 10 post-office workers killed that day; eight others died in the trench
alongside her, including her parents Hurtle and Alice. The others killed in the trench were
sisters Jean and Eileen Mullen, Emily Young, Arthur Wellington, Freda Stasinowsky, and
Archibald Halls. Walter Rowling was injured and died the following day on the HMAHS
Gunner Jack Mulholland
14th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery
Jack Mulholland was born in 1921 in Hay, New South Wales. He joined the Commonwealth
Bank in 1938 until he was of age to enlist in the army.
Initially serving in the First Light Horse Regiment, he transferred to the 14th Heavy Anti-
Aircraft Battery in 1940. His posting to Darwin lasted until late-1942, after which he
undertook training in a number of areas including infantry, heavy and light anti-aircraft
artillery and jungle warfare. During the first bombing of Darwin he was one of a crew
manning an anti-aircraft gun at the Darwin Oval on the Esplanade. Today, this is the site of
After he was discharged in late-1945, Jack rejoined the Commonwealth Bank. He has
written a book about his service in Darwin, with particular reference to the bombings, and
has been a regular attendee at commemorative events.
Flight Lieutenant Jack Slade
Royal Australian Air Force
John (Jack) Slade was born in 1915 and trained as a carpenter. He joined the Royal
Australian Air Force (RAAF) upon the outbreak of World War II, and trained as a pilot at
RAAF Point Cook, in Victoria. As Flight Lieutenant Slade he was posted to the Northern
Territory in late-1942. He joined the 6 Communications Unit, alongside Wing Commander
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Clyde Fenton. The unit was responsible for carrying mail and supplies to isolated outposts
and also undertook search-and-rescue operations.
On 9 May 1943, the RAAF base at Milingimbi Mission was attacked. Jack landed just after
the raid and managed to reach a slit trench before the next wave of bombings occurred. His
plane, a Dragon Rapide, was strafed. Immediately after the attack a fitter helped Jack repair
the plane so that Jack could fly two wounded men to the Medical Receiving Station at
Coomalie Creek. For this action, as well as his general service in Milingimbi, he was
awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Just days after this, Jack was seriously
injured in a crash that fractured his skull and leg.
Post–World War II, Jack re-established the Aerial Medical Service (AMS); the Top End’s
answer to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. After a colourful career, he retired from active
flying in June 1970, but continued on as operations manager for the AMS until June 1980.
He died on 4 December 1990.
In the late-1940s, Jack explored the remains of the USAT Don Isidro, which was beached on
the shores of Bathurst Island. He retrieved a silver platter and a number of small silver bowls
from the wreck. In the 1990s, these items were donated to the Museum and Art Gallery of
the Northern Territory.
Joan Bowman (nee Presley) grew up in Darwin. Although she was unaware of it until later in
life, Joan’s mother was part-Aboriginal, and overall Joan’s ancestry was uniquely Darwin:
part Chinese, Spanish, Filipino and Northern European. She grew up in a family that was
involved in all sorts of activities – logging on Melville Island, tropical fruit farming in Nightcliff,
and fishing, which was a major source of income. Her father would often bring fish into town
to sell to the hospital and the restaurants.
Evacuated from Darwin after Pearl Harbor on the SS Montoro with her younger brothers, she
lost touch with much of her family in the Northern Territory. Joan returned to Darwin in 1992
for the Evacuee Reunion and was able to reconnect with many members of her extended
family for the first time in 50 years.
Lieutenant John Boyd Selman
John Boyd Selman, born in 1898, was the first official librarian at the Darwin Public Library.
He took up the position in 1936, although he and his wife had lived in Darwin for some years
prior to this. In 1941, John was called up to enlist. He was asked to report to Army
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headquarters in Melbourne and was then posted to the Intelligence Corps, based at
Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin. There had been an attempt by the Director of Army Education
to have John appointed to perform library duties for service personnel, however this was
John continued to maintain his interest in the library he had developed prior to World War II,
and he was devastated when it was looted about 10 days after the first bombing. The
attempts by the Northern Territory Administration to salvage the library were undertaken
without his advice, and as a result a number of key publications and some unique collection
materials were lost. John never forgave the administration for this, and he did not choose to
remain in Darwin after the war.
Northern Territory Patrol Service
John Cassidy was born in Ireland in 1912 and came to Australia with his family in 1919. He
was educated in Sydney, and by 1937 was not only an experienced and qualified maritime
engineer but had also spent time as a militia sergeant in a machine gun company. With two
friends he came to Darwin in 1937, to explore the possibilities of gold prospecting, or
crocodile or buffalo hunting. On arrival they realised this would not be practical, however the
Northern Territory’s Coastal Patrol Service was in desperate need of an engineer for its
vessel, the Larrakia, which had just had been towed into port by a lugger it had arrested – an
incident which had earned it national notoriety.
John was taken into the patrol service immediately and was with them until it was disbanded.
John married Joan in 1941, and she joined him in Darwin until the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
She was evacuated on the SS President Grant in December 1941. John left Darwin in 1942,
hitching a ride south on an American bomber. He joined the navy, working at the Green
Point Naval Yard in Sydney until the end of the war. Though he lived the life of a
‘southerner’, he always yearned to return to Darwin.
‘Darwin will always be Darwin. It has that particular character all of its own.’
(no image available, image of wife and children)
John Cubillo, one of 11 children of a Filipino pearl-diving father and a part-Aboriginal
(Larrakia) mother, was working as a wharf labourer in Darwin when war broke out. Soon
after the attack on Pearl Harbor his wife, Louisa, and their nine children were evacuated
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from Darwin. They were camped at Katherine when news reached them of the first bombing
On 19 February 1942, John, along with a number of other ‘wharfies’, was helping to unload
military supplies and ordnance off the MV Neptuna, moored alongside Darwin Wharf. The
ship had waited over a week to be unloaded and work had only begun that morning: the
vessel was still loaded with a large amount of explosive material, including depth charges
and ammunition, when the Japanese aircraft attacked.
There were approximately 80 wharf labourers in the vicinity that morning, and 22 of them
died, including John. His teenage daughter, Mary, recalls that ‘One of the wharfies who
survived saw my father running after the boat [Neptuna] and it got a direct hit … they never
ever found his body.’
The Cubillo family returned to Darwin after the war and theirs is a well-known name in the
Top End. A civil ceremony to commemorate the loss of wharfies is held annually at the wharf
on the anniversary of the first bombing of Darwin.
Lieutenant John Glover
Second Lieutenant (Air Corps)
United States Army Air Forces
Second Lieutenant John G Glover was born in 1915. His home town was Fargo, North
Dakota, in the United States of America, and he trained as a pilot at Kelly Field in Texas. He
shipped out for the Philippines aboard the USS President Polk on 18 December 1941, but
the speed of the Japanese offensive was so swift that the President Polk had to be
redirected to Brisbane. John, along with his Pursuit Squadron of P-40 pilots, headed
overland to Perth. However, by the time they reached Port Pirie, South Australia, new orders
had been issued and they were, once again, diverted; this time to Darwin.
John was flying one of 10 P-40s that had taken off on the morning of 19 February 1942 for
Dutch Timor but returned after bad weather was reported. He landed at the RAAF
aerodrome in Darwin alongside four others while the remaining five planes stayed in the air
acting as top cover. No sooner had John landed than the alert came over the radio regarding
the approach of Japanese Zero aircraft. John quickly took off but was unable to achieve
sufficient altitude before the attack was upon him. Another pilot, Burt Rice, was forced to
eject from his damaged aircraft and John used his plane to protect the unconscious pilot
from being strafed by the Japanese as his parachute safely carried him to the ground. In
doing so John’s plane was critically damaged. He crashed, and suffered severe facial
injuries. He was eventually evacuated from Darwin aboard the hospital ship, the HMAHS
Manunda. Of the 10 P-40s in action over Darwin that day, nine planes were downed and four
John became a career air-force pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for
his actions in Darwin, and, by 1943, had reached the rank of Major and achieved the
command of a fighter training squadron. He reached the rank of Colonel after extensive
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service at home and abroad throughout the 1950s and 1960s. John Glover died in 1990 and
is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.
The Defence of Darwin Experience was unable to find a picture of John Glover. If anyone
has further information on John Glover, including images, this material would be gratefully
Native Affairs Branch
Northern Territory Administration
Born in Adelaide in 1923, Les Penhall tried to join the navy at the age of 17 without success:
he was working in the post office, which was a reserved occupation. He was transferred to
the Northern Territory Administration, and arrived in Darwin in late-1941. He was based in
the Native Affairs Branch, located on the Esplanade, and survived the first bombing of
Les was evacuated to Alice Springs and got caught up in the draft. He joined the army and
was transferred to Adelaide for training on searchlights. He served in the Torres Strait on
Horn Island and later with the 2nd Australian Field Artillery as a signaller.
After the war, Les returned to Alice Springs as a cadet patrol officer. After further study he
became a fully fledged patrol officer and worked a variety of postings across the Northern
Territory. When the Territory achieved Self-Government in 1978, Les was transferred to the
Office of Aboriginal Liaison and was Advisor to the Chief Minister on Aboriginals until he
retired in 1983. In that same year he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in recognition
of his long years of service.
Officer in Charge
Darwin Wireless Station VID
Lou Curnock and his large family spent many happy years in Darwin prior to World War II.
After the family was evacuated in 1941, Lou remained as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the
Darwin Wireless Station, VID. He was described as ‘a big man in every way, highly efficient
… he was to display courage and fortitude above the average.’ His determination to keep
VID running ensured communications between Darwin and the world continued despite the
damage to other military and civil communications facilities immediately after the first
In August 1942, Lou became ill and was taken to the army hospital at Katherine suffering
from acute appendicitis. He was released in September and flown south; his time at VID was
up, as was the time of his companions. After enduring endless raids, he and his colleagues
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 14
had earned their reprieve and were relieved of their duties in Darwin. Replacement staff
arrived at VID in Royal Australian Navy uniforms, reflecting the evolving role of
communications in Darwin after the initial bombing.
Lou died on 25 May 1946 at his home in Ettalong Beach on the New South Wales Central
Coast, aged 67 years.
(no image available, image of SS Zealandia)
Mary Lloyd arrived in Darwin in late-1941, after travelling with her two small children aboard
the MV Koolama from Fremantle in order to join her husband. Mary only lived in Darwin for
three weeks before she and her children sailed again – this time as evacuees, following the
bombing of Pearl Harbor, aboard the SS Zealandia. It would be another 22 months before
she saw her husband again. After the long voyage to Sydney Mary and her children travelled
by train to her home town of Perth where she lived for the duration of World War II.
Mary and her family were among the earliest to arrive back in Darwin after the war, and they
lived there for a further five years before her husband was transferred to Adelaide.
The Defence of Darwin Experience was unable to find a picture of Mary Lloyd. If anyone has
further information on Mary Lloyd and her family, including images, this material would be
Matthias Ulungura, sometimes known as Ngapiatilawai, was around 21 years of age when
he arrived at the Bathurst Island Mission holding Hajime Toyoshima prisoner. He had made
history, capturing the first Japanese prisoner of war on Australian soil.
Matthias was well-known to the military men serving on Bathurst Island around the RAAF
aerodrome. He had assisted in laying mines around the aerodrome and later carried the
honorary rank of flight sergeant as a result of work carried out with the RAAF on the island
during World War II. He was unpaid for his war service, although attempts were made by
Flight Officer Moore to obtain benefits for him in his later years.
Matthias died in 1980. A small monument and plaque at the Bathurst Island Mission
commemorates him and his role in the capture of Toyoshima.
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 15
The story of Matthias and his capture of Toyoshima became well-known across the Top End,
as can be seen in the story told by Ron Agnew-Brown, a police constable in Darwin.
“I remember when the mission lugger – St Francis – the master of that was a Brother Smith
… he could not get a crew to take back [to Bathurst Island] because they were terrified of the
bombing. They knew what it was like with the first raid – a bit of a terrifying experience. Most
of the Bathurst Island boys were camped out about 12 miles outside Darwin. He’d been out
trying to get a lugger crew and they wouldn’t be in it, they wouldn’t budge. So at that stage
I’d heard about Matthias who took that first Japanese prisoner and I started to tell them this
story in Pidgin English about this wonderful, wonderful big fella who took this Japanese
prisoner. ‘Oh, great man’, I said, ‘He bin come along and he put the revolver in the ribs of
this Japanese man and marched him to the mission. Oh, him good fella that one.’ By the
time we’d finished our story they all wanted to go back. [Brother Smith] had no trouble, he
picked the best crew he could find. They wanted to be same as Matthias.”
Petty Officer Melvin (Mel) Duke
First Class Petty Officer
United States Navy
Melvin Duke was born in Houston, Texas, and joined the United States Navy when he was
about 15 years of age. He served at a number of stations across the world. In late-1941 he
was aboard the USS Peary, making a run for it out of Corregidor Island in the Philippines to
Australia via the Celebes. His rank was that of First Class Petty Officer (Bosun).
The Peary was part of a convoy of ships in company with the USS Houston that tried to
move into Dutch Timor. They were bombed so heavily that they had to turn back. The Peary
pulled into Darwin Harbour on 18 February 1942, intending to head back to the Dutch East
Indies (Indonesia). But a suspected Japanese submarine contact had the Peary turned back
to track the threat. The Peary arrived back in the harbour on the morning of 19 February and
was sunk in the Japanese air raid.
Mel survived the air raid and continued to serve with the US Navy in the South Pacific.
During the war he married an Australian girl and returned to Australia to retire.
Commander Mitsuo Fuchida
Flight Commander, Aircraft carrier Akagi
Imperial Japanese Navy
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 16
Born in 1902, Mitsuo Fuchida was one of Japan’s most experienced bomber pilots. He is
perhaps best-known for leading the air attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. He
was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack, a role he reprised over
Darwin on 19 February 1942.
Fuchida entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1921 and trained as a pilot,
specialising in horizontal bombing. He gained combat experience in the Second Sino-
Japanese War in the late-1930s. Fuchida joined the aircraft carrier Akagi in 1939 as a flight
commander, and as an experienced pilot with over 3000 hours of flight experience.
The successful attack on Pearl Harbor made Fuchida a national hero and earned him an
audience with Emperor Hirohito. As well as leading the attack on Darwin, Fuchida was also
responsible, in April 1942, for a series of air attacks against the headquarters of the British
Eastern Fleet in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In June 1942, Fuchida was wounded at the Battle of
Midway whilst aboard the Akagi. He spent the rest of the war as a staff officer.
Fuchida struggled after the war to reconcile the Japanese code of war with the concept of
forgiveness. A pamphlet written by an American who had been a prisoner of the Japanese
changed his life. In 1950, Fuchida converted to Christianity and spent the rest of his life as
an evangelist, touring the United States in 1952 as a member of the Worldwide Christian
Mission Army of Sky Pilots.
Fuchida died on 30 May 1976 at the age of 73.
Royal Australian Navy
(no image available, image of Naval HQ building)
Nell Dick arrived in Darwin at Christmas1941, to join her husband, Allen, who was an
operational officer with the navy. She soon found work as a typist/shorthand writer with Navy
Intelligence. Nell and another secretary, Moira Bagg, were not evacuated with the other
women and remained in Darwin until after the first bombing.
Eventually forced to leave Darwin along with several other women, Nell travelled in a convoy
on the back of an army truck to Adelaide. She went by train to Melbourne and then returned
to her home town of Sydney. Her husband remained in Darwin for some time before being
transferred to Melbourne in 1943. Nell worked for David Jones in Sydney at the time and
transferred to the same department at David Jones, Melbourne, in order to join her husband.
The Defence of Darwin Experience was unable to find a picture of Nell Dick. If anyone has
further information on Nell Dick and her family, including images, this material would be
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 17
Lieutenant Norman Muzzell
Commander of HMAS Gunbar
Royal Australian Navy
Norman Muzzell was born in London in 1904. He worked consistently on ships and moved to
Melbourne in 1937 with his Australian wife. He was called up by the Royal Australian Navy in
In 1942, Norman was in command of a minesweeper, the HMAS Gunbar, which was working
outside Darwin Harbour. During the first Japanese air raid, on 19 February, the Gunbar was
hit and Norman was wounded — shot in both knees. Despite his injuries, Norman ordered
the Gunbar on a rescue operation up the harbour, evacuating the merchant ship SS
Portmar, before going to hospital.
Norman was evacuated on the hospital ship HMAHS Manunda. After his recovery he served
aboard the HMAS Ararat, which patrolled in the South Pacific. He reached the rank of
Lieutenant Commander, and was mentioned in dispatches for his actions on 19 February
Ordinary Seaman Paton (Pat) Forster
Royal Australian Navy
Paton (Pat) Forster was born in April 1921, and enlisted with the Royal Australian Navy in
October 1940: having done a bit of sailing in small boats he thought the navy would suit him
better than the army or the air force. In October 1941, Pat sailed to Darwin aboard the MV
Neptuna to take up a posting with HMAS Melville. After nearly two years in Darwin, Pat was
recommended for admission into officer training school and graduated as a sub-lieutenant
with the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. He became an anti-submarine officer on
HMAS Whyalla, and served in the Pacific region until the end of World War II. In 1946 he
was de-mobilised, holding the rank of lieutenant.
Pat pursued a career in the arts, retiring to Alice Springs in 1991 after 21 years in arts
management at the National Gallery of Victoria.
A talented artist, Pat created a number of sketches based on his direct experience of the
attacks on Darwin and his time in Darwin with the navy. These were donated to the Museum
and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and published as a collection in 1992 as The Navy
in Darwin 1941–1943: A graphic record from a sailor’s sketchbooks. The book was collated
by Ted Egan, former Administrator of the Northern Territory. In addition, Pat undertook
extensive research to produce a publication entitled Fixed Naval Defences in Darwin
Harbour: How the Navy secured Darwin Harbour against Submarine Attacks between 1939
and 1945. Pat has also produced works of fiction, both as an author and an illustrator, and
has been a contributing artist to works regarding the history of the navy.
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 18
Reverend Christopher Goy
Senior (Presbyterian) Army Chaplain
Christopher Goy was born in England in 1897 and moved with his family to Australia, living
first in Bondi and later in The Rocks where his father worked as a missionary in what was
one of the worst slum areas of Sydney.
At age 18 he put his age up to 21, joined the 1st Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and
embarked for India and ultimately Mesopotamia where he participated in the famous charge
of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba on 31 October 1917.
After a varied post–World War I career that included cutting prickly pear, meat packing, dairy
farming and managing a picture theatre, he finally found his calling as a Presbyterian
reverend. He joined the Australian Inland Mission in 1935 as a patrol padre and was
assigned to the northern patrol, which stretched from Camooweal (Queensland) to Port
Hedland (Western Australia). Rev. Goy and his wife toured this huge area once a year by
truck, visiting stations and stock camps.
In 1939, he was appointed Senior (Presbyterian) Army Chaplain in Darwin. He established
the inter-church social club for the troops with the co-operation of other church leaders and
the YMCA. He was in Darwin during the first bombing and was a volunteer with Air Raid
Precautions (ARP). He resigned in December 1942 after he was refused a posting to New
Rev. Goy spent the next 25 years as Minister at the Ewing Memorial Church East Malvern,
in Melbourne. As always he was deeply involved in a range of activities, most particularly the
YMCA, Rotary, Scouting, the Freemasons, and the Returned Soldiers’ League. In 1967, Goy
was awarded an OBE in recognition of service to religion as Minister of the Presbyterian
Church in Ewing. He died at Ashburton in Melbourne in 1982.
Lieutenant Robert Oestreicher
United States Army Air Forces
University educated, Robert Oestreicher joined the flying cadets in 1940 and later graduated
as a fighter pilot in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), first flying a Kittyhawk P-40
in July 1941.
Oestreicher gained the distinction of being the first reputed pilot to shoot down two Japanese
dive-bombers over Australian soil during the first attack on Darwin. He received the
Distinguished Service Cross for his service on that day, however there is still conjecture as
to exactly how many Japanese aircraft were destroyed over Darwin on 19 February 1942.
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 19
In later life, Oestreicher travelled to Australia regularly as a sales representative and
demonstration pilot for Beech Aircraft Corporation. He was fond of Australia and attended
commemorative events in Darwin.
Second Lieutenant (Air Corps) Robert G Oestreicher (ASN: 0-421298), United States Army
Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in
connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-40
Fighter Airplane in the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), 8th Pursuit Group, Far East Air
Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 19 February 1942, during an air mission
near Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. Second Lieutenant Oestreicher was pilot of one
of a flight of 10 pursuit airplanes forced by unfavourable weather to turn back from a ferry
flight from Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, to Koepang, Timor, Netherlands East Indies.
When the flight arrived at Darwin, and before refuelling could be effected, information of the
approach of an enemy formation was received. When the approaching enemy, consisting of
approximately 60 high-level bombers, 36 fighters and 18 dive-bombers was intercepted,
Lieutenant Oestreicher, in spite of the tremendous odds, courageously attacked the enemy
formation, inflicting heavy damage, until he at last landed his damaged airplane. He was
credited with downing one enemy aircraft in this action. Second Lieutenant Oestreicher’s
unquestionable valour in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military
service and reflects great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, and the United States
Army Air Forces.
Northern Territory Police Force
Born in 1916, Ron Agnew-Brown, known as Ron Brown or ‘Brownie’ to his mates, left behind
farm life in northern New South Wales, and the Depression, when he joined the Northern
Territory Police Force (NTPF) in 1939. The chief attraction of the Territory Police over the
Commonwealth Police (he was accepted by both) was the plane flight to Darwin: ‘I’d never
been up in an aeroplane in my life.’
Ron survived the early Japanese bombings in Darwin and enlisted for a brief period in the
RAAF. In 1943, he married a woman ‘very keen on surfing … we had quite an affair outside
and beyond about the fifth break.’ He returned to the NTPF and, in 1945, took over the Finke
Police District, a huge area south of Alice Springs that stretched over state borders and was
patrolled on camel-back.
Private Stephen King
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 20
Born in 1909, Stephen King worked as a miner in Broken Hill before the outbreak of World
War II. King had a special connection with the Northern Territory: he was the grandson of
Stephen King Jr, an explorer on the last John McDouall Stuart expedition of 1861–62, which
successfully crossed Australia from south to north. He enlisted in the army in 1941 and
arrived in Darwin in October 1942.
Like many enlistees, Stephen occupied himself with creative endeavours when off-duty. He
sketched and painted many images of buildings, natural scenery, waterways and people
during his time in Darwin. His images of military life and the damage wrought by the
bombings provide a complementary perspective to the many historical photographs taken of
similar activities and scenes.
Lieutenant Thomas Moorer
United States Navy
Thomas Moorer was born in 1912 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy at
Annapolis in 1933. A highly distinguished career followed. Moorer saw extensive service in
World War II, including at Pearl Harbor, Darwin and in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia)
A decorated World War II hero, Moorer rose quickly to the US Navy’s top ranks. From
August 1967 to July 1970 he served as the 18th Chief of Naval Operations, then went on to
serve as the 7th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until July 1974. Admiral Thomas
Moorer died four days short of his 92nd birthday in February 2004. He is buried at Arlington
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to
Lieutenant Thomas Hinman Moorer (NSN: 0-72396), United States Navy, for extremely
gallant and intrepid conduct as pilot of a patrol plane in Patrol Squadron 22 (VP-22) during
and following an attack by enemy Japanese aircraft in the vicinity of Cape Van Diemen,
Australia, on 19 February 1942. Although Lieutenant Moorer and his co-pilot were wounded
in the attack, he succeeded in landing his badly damaged and blazing plane. His courage
and leadership during a subsequent attack upon the rescue ship and while undergoing the
hardships and dangers of returning the survivors to the Australian mainland were in keeping
with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
(no image available, image of SS President Grant)
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 21
Valerie Fletcher was born in Darwin in 1923. Her father was Harold Snell, a well-known
Darwin builder who was responsible for many of Darwin’s pre-war buildings, including the
iconic British Australia Telegraph House (now known as Lyons Cottage). Harold was also
the contractor for the construction of the first series of oil tanks in the 1920s and 1930s.
Valerie was evacuated in December 1941 on the USS President Grant. She returned to
Darwin for a short time in 1949 after her father died. Although Valerie left the Northern
Territory, her brother Brian lived here during the 1950s and another brother, Richard, lived in
Darwin and Alice Springs until 1960. Two of his sons and their families still live in Katherine,
a place Valerie often visited.
The Defence of Darwin Experience was unable to find a picture of Valerie Fletcher. If anyone
has further information on Valerie Fletcher and her family, including images, this material
would be gratefully received.
Northern Territory Administration
Vicki Darken (nee Ormond) was born in Darwin in 1923. By the age of 18 she was working in
an essential position with the Northern Territory Administration and therefore was not
evacuated with the other women and children in December 1941. In a twist of fate, she and
six other women were evacuated to Alice Springs just two days before the first bombing of
Darwin. Her future husband, Bob Darken, was a police constable in Darwin who survived the
bombings and later travelled to Alice Springs to marry Vicki. As the wife of a police constable
she lived in many postings across the Northern Territory.
In 1950 the Darkens purchased the Simpsons Gap pastoral lease and worked the land until
the area was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1970. The family moved back to Alice
Springs while Bob Darken continued to work as a ranger on the newly formed Simpsons
Gunner Wilbert ‘Darky’ Hudson
2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery
Wilbert (Darky) Hudson was born at Merrylands in 1920 to Albert and Wilhelmina Hudson. At
the age of 19 he signed up for service because his ‘mates were all going down and joining
Nicknamed ‘Darky’ by his army mates because of his tanned skin, he was assigned to the
Second Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery and trained at Georges Heights in Sydney before being
sent to Darwin in 1941. Posted to Berrimah, where heavy guns were being installed, Darky
was put onto a Lewis machine gun (calibre .303) because he ‘was a good shot’. He was
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 22
posted to defend the battery against ground attacks and was not expecting to be defending
against air strikes.
After the events of 19 February 1942, Darky continued to serve in Darwin until he was
seriously injured later that year. He was positioned, with other soldiers, at the oil tanks on 16
June 1942, when Japanese bombers made a direct hit on an oil tank with a 300 kg bomb.
The oil caught fire and Darky and two other gunners were badly scorched. They would have
died there if they had not been rescued by Lieutenant Brown and Sergeant Fraser, who
carried them out as the fire blazed around them and their ammunition.
After four months in hospital, Darky was welcomed home in December 1942 by the Mayor of
Holroyd Municipal Council at a reception in the Merrylands School of Arts Hall. In 1945,
Darky married June and they raised their family in Greystanes, in the west of Sydney. He
died in 2002.
< www.nt.gov.au/defenceofdarwin>I All Years 23