Territory Tribute comprises a program of events commencing with the Bombing of Darwin Day Commemoration (19 February), through to Anzac Day (25 April) 2019. Territory Tribute positions the Territory as the destination for the Military History in Australia. It will refocus attention on a forgotten aspect of Australia’s history, including the attacks on Darwin and the Top End during WWII, and also explore the Territory’s ongoing importance to the Australian Defence Force.
Reflecting the involvement from the Australian Military, Indigenous Australians, Tiwi Islanders, South East Asia, US and Japan, Territory Tribute will be an inclusive, respectful and truthful reflection of our military history whilst honouring past and present military services and celebrating the freedoms that we now enjoy.
The initial bombing of Darwin on 19 February, 1942, was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australian soil, and Darwin was bombed more heavily than Pearl Harbour. Yet while Americans revere the events of Pearl Harbour, describing it as “a date which will live in infamy”, most Australians are only dimly aware of the bombing of Darwin.
Over 230 people- the equivalent of one-tenth of Darwin’s population in 1941- died on the first day of bombing, and Darwin was bombed over 70 times in the following 18 months. Northern Australia was a living war zone in 1942 and 1943. Between 900-1100 Australians and allies lost their lives and thousands of families were affected.
To this day, Darwin and the Territory remain a strategic site for the Australian Defence Force. The Army, Navy and Air Force all have bases in Darwin, employing over 5000 Defence Personnel. Major military exercises, including Exercise Pitch Black, which hosts 4000 Defence Personnel and 140 aircraft from around the globe, enhance regional security and foster close ties between Defence Forces throughout the Asia Pacific region. Darwin is uniquely positioned as gateway to Asia from Australia and is also home to a significant US military presence.
We encourage all Australians to make the pilgrimage to Darwin to experience wartime in the Top End, commemorate our past and explore this often-overlooked aspect of Australian history.