Ebene News – AU – Wendy said goodbye to her father before the bombs fell on Darwin, years later learned of her father’s plight

Eighty-six-year-old Wendy James will never forget seeing the newspaper headline “Darwin Bombed”, even though she was only six at the time

Weeks earlier, she had said goodbye to her father Stan Secrett on Stokes Hill Wharf, one of 2,000 women and children evacuated from the then-remote Top End military outpost after the outbreak of World War II global

“We were in a terrible state We didn’t know if Dad had been killed No one knew the death rate,” Ms James said on the eve of the 79th anniversary of the Darwin bombing

Australian wartime authorities withheld many details of the attack at the time, believing that disclosure of loss and damage would help the enemy

Three weeks after the first air raid on February 19, 1942, Ms James’ family received a heavily censored letter where they were staying in Western Australia, revealing that her father was alive

But Ms James said it wasn’t until she was reunited with him three years later that she learned of her ordeal

M Secrett, a construction supervisor, was working on the Stokes Hill wharf in Darwin when the first planes struck at 9:58 a.m.

“He started running with all the men he worked with on the wharf They ran near the tankers and tried to hide in one of the split trenches, but they were all full

“Finally, he lay down on the last person in a trench and covered his head”

Hundreds of servicemen and civilians were killed and countless others injured in 64 Top End bombing raids, the largest foreign power attack ever on Australia

Ms James spoke to the ABC about some of the hardships endured by Darwin’s wives and children who were separated from their loved ones, most of them during the war

The order to evacuate women and children came as Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941

Mrs James remembers her mother Poppy not wanting to leave Darwin, then a military garrison town made up of dirt roads and brush areas

She said air raid sirens sounded when a military policeman threatened to carry her mother over her shoulder to the dock if she refused to cooperate

The family boarded the Koolinda, a ship that had brought the family to Darwin a few years earlier

Women on board took shifts to watch Japanese submarines, planes or mines during the trip to Perth

It was only later that Ms James realized that the search lights she used to look at as she sat on the reverse of the family railroad at Darwin with his brother, were actually looking for submarines

The government provided no food or accommodation “So we moved from house to house”

She stayed for a while in a boarding school in WA, after her mother moved to Alice Springs, then a bustling war town like Darwin

She said she spent most of the time in “silent introversion” staring at the moon

Mrs James joined her mother in Alice Springs about a year before peace was declared in 1945

She remembers seeing people standing on trucks, sounding horns and clapping to celebrate the news

By this time, her mother had given birth to twins after she sometimes managed to find her father at Dunmarra station, about 300 kilometers from Katherine

After the war, the family returned to Darwin where they lived in one of the town’s pre-war Burnett houses on what is now Mitchell Street in Darwin.

Mrs. James said on returning to Darwin that her father “didn’t speak to us… he didn’t know how to speak with his children”

Ms James said that in Darwin, trucks of people were preparing to leave, to return to their hometowns in the south

An investigation into why more people are ignoring the existence of the biggest attack on Australia by a foreign power

“They might have lived in tin sheds or in terrible conditions, but they were like mom and wanted to come home anyway,” she said

“We went to places we remembered Chinatown was burned down and there is nothing left We went to our old house and it was gone too,” she said

“At the age we were, we just accepted it Many had been bombed but our school was not and we were driving this way”

Her father was killed in a traffic accident on the Stuart Highway when she was a teenager

She has lived in Darwin for over 80 years, seeing not only the damage caused by the Darwin bombing, but also Cyclone Tracy in 1974, when she snuggled up at home with her family

Ms. James has received awards for her contribution to the Darwin community as well as an Order of Australia for her promotion of women’s issues

These days, she enjoys feeding birds in her tropical garden in the Darwin suburb of Fannie Bay

“The birds that I meet every morning at 7 am… I have a conversation with them,” Ms. James said, looking at her favorite bromeliads, philodendrons and calatheae

The Darwin Bombing Day memorial service will be held at the Darwin Esplanade Cenotaph today from 9:30 a.m.

We recognize the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original Australians and traditional custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Darwin Bombing, Darwin

Ebene News – UA – Wendy said goodbye to her father before the bombs fell on Darwin, years later she learned of his father’s fate

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-19/wendy-james-bombing-of-darwin-commemoration-79-anniversary/13168332