Navy personnel and a patrol boat have taken part in Australian Defence Force commemorations in Darwin to mark 74 years since the largest single attack by a foreign power on Australian soil.
Up to 400 people were injured and 236 Australian and allied military personnel and civilians were killed in attacks by Japanese fighter aircraft on 19 February 1942.
About 200 Japanese fighter aircraft were launched from four aircraft carriers to conduct bombing raids on the then small city of Darwin.
The Japanese forces overwhelmed local defences, with all except one of the allied aircraft in Darwin destroyed and 14 vessels sunk or grounded.
The largest loss of life was suffered on the American Clemson class destroyer, USS Peary, which sunk with the loss of 88 crew from a ship's complement of 101.
The 2016 commemorations began at the memorial for the USS Peary in Darwin’s Bicentennial Park.
There was significant representation at the service from across the Australian Defence Force and US Marines based in Darwin.
The USS Peary commemoration was followed by a large scale commemoration at the Darwin Cenotaph, with the highlight being a flypast by an RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft and a gun firing re-enactment by members of Darwin’s 1st Brigade, while the Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Maitland provided a Navy backdrop in Darwin Harbour.
Navy Chaplain Dan Hynes lead prayers at both services.
“Seventy-four years ago, Darwin sustained an overwhelming attack,” Chaplain Hynes said.
“A small and remote community at the time, today Darwin has grown into a vibrant centre of the Australian Defence Force and the centre of the Top End.
“What is significant is that then, Australians and US forces stood side-by-side to protect their interests, a partnership that continues strongly to this day in Darwin.”
Wreaths were laid by dignitaries, officials and members of the public including Brigadier Ben James (Commander 1st Brigade), Colonel Brian Bailey (Deputy Commander Northern Command), Commander John Navin (Commanding Officer HMAS Coonawarra) and Wing Commander Wes Perrett (Commanding Officer RAAF Darwin) representing the ADF, while Colonel Dan Wilson represented US Forces in the Top End.