World War II veteran Mervyn Ey, who spent time based in Darwin during the war, has returned for the Bombing of Darwin commemoration. Picture: Michael Franchi
World War II veteran Mervyn Ey, who spent time based in Darwin during the war, has returned for the Bombing of Darwin commemoration. Picture: Michael Franchi

Darwin bombing: Painful memories hard to forget for veteran

WORLD War II veteran Mervyn Ey looks back on the Bombing of Darwin in sadness, but also in pride, for how he helped protect this country's frontier during wartime.

Mr Ey has returned to the tropical north from Adelaide to commemorate today's 76th anniversary of the brutal Japanese bombing raids on Darwin.

"It certainly brings back memories. There is a photo of 18 of us in our platoon, and I'm the last one left of them. It's not really a good memory," he said.

Mr Ey said while there was much about the war he wouldn't ever forget, he understood its importance to Australian history.

"It's nice for all the younger people to know what's passed - that was the first time war has come to Australia."

The veteran was in Nightcliff working on infantry defences when the first bombs hit Darwin.

"Our battalion was scattered along the coast, along Nightcliff and Rapid Creek," he said.

"When the bombers came, we were working on barbed- wire fences. We could hear the bombs, but they weren't close enough to worry us.

"We watched the planes come overhead and when we heard the bombs, we had to work out what to do.

"The planes kept coming overhead, and one bomber got shot down. That's one thing you never forget, seeing a bomber flutter like leaves."

Mr Ey was just 20 years old when he entered the military.

"I entered in October 1941; it wasn't much longer after that when it happened," he said.

Mr Ey had embarked on a gruelling journey across the country to the Top End in the December heat.

"We caught a road train up from Adelaide ….

"There was no seating … and we each got one meal on the way - a stew full of maggots."

Mr Ey will attend a morning service and Lord Mayor's reception in the afternoon as part of the commemoration.


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