Darwin Defenders commemoration at Horsham College| Photos

WIMMERA residents commemorated the first attack on Australian soil 72 years ago at 9.58am, on Wednesday.

About 600 veterans, special guests, families and students gathered at Horsham College to remember the sacrifice Darwin Defenders made when Japanese raiders bombed Australia on February 19, 1942.

Veteran Jack Mills, 91, of Kaniva who served in the Eighth Battalion in Darwin, said commemorations such as the Darwin Defenders service were important for schools and veterans because it took a long time for the Darwin Defenders to be acknowledged.

"The government did not allow anybody to release information until 50 years after," he said.

"Then it was decided to try to get it through the Education Department in Australian history, so that's when this started."

Shrine of Remembrance chief executive and guest speaker Denis Baguley acknowledged the lack of recognition in the southern states of Australia at the time.

"The first two raids in 1942 killed many people; records say 243 and between 300 and 400 people were wounded," he said.

"Casualty lists published in newspapers at the time were much lower."

Mr Baguley encouraged students from Horsham College, St Brigid's College and Dimboola Memorial Secondary College to reflect on and appreciate all Australians who had served their country.

He recognised the 39,800 Australians who died in the Second World War and the 8000 who died as prisoners of war.

"We should also remember and commemorate more than 100,000 Australians who have lost their lives through all wars and the million Australian service men and women who have served the nation so we, today, can enjoy peace and prosperity,'' he said.

Other special guests included Horsham Mayor David Grimble, John Nunn, Horsham College principal Graeme Holmes and Horsham College school captains Lauren Walter and Lucas Shaw.

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