Horsham remembers Darwin bombings 

Darwin Defenders, community members and students paused to remember the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Darwin during a service at Horsham College yesterday.

The February 19, 1942 Japanese air raid was the first foreign attack on Australian soil and started a series of bombings of Australia's north that continued until November, 1943.

Guest speaker and Horsham RSL vice-president David Eltringham said it was important that Australians knew the stories of their 'gallant servicemen'.

He told Horsham College year 10 students and St Brigid's College year nine students that while 243 people were officially listed as having been killed in the Darwin bombings, army intelligence estimated that about 1100 were killed.

"These events were kept secret because of a fear that there would be a serious loss of national morale," he said.

"With modern communications, the internet, television, Twitter and all those things people would now know about these events in real time.

"Back then it took years and many people grew up without knowing the pivotal events of February 19, 1942.

"Our treasured country needs men and women of the calibre of those in 1942."

Darwin Defender Rex Ruwoldt said despite 71 years passing, the memories of his first day in Darwin were as vivid as ever.

"I had four machine guns going off over my head," he said.

"I just hit the ground and I felt about as thick as a piece of cardboard.

"I just thought that wasn't very nice, they should not do that to us."

Horsham College principal Frank Spiel said the school was interested in filming interviews with the region's remaining Darwin Defenders.

"We want to the capture the memory, share it and celebrate the lifestyle we have today because that is due to the people who defended Darwin," he said.

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