Memories never fade
Angus Scott (pictured) knows he’s lucky to be living in Australia in 2019 and he wants others to realise this about themselves too. Now 96, Mr Scott arrived
by car in Darwin on February 19, 1942 as part of the Horsham-based 19th Australian Machine Gun Battalion bound for the war against Japan in the South Pacific. But Japan came to them that same day. “There was a boat there ready, but we got held up by floods, we were sitting on the roads for days,” he said. “so they sent another Battalion on the boat we were supposed to be on, and we arrived just after the boat left, but they got out to sea and at night time the Japanese attacked that boat, so it came around and turned back, and they all got of the boat. That was when the first raid was on. They blew all the ships in the wharf.” Just before 10am then again at 12noon, 235 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the Darwin bombing. They were the first and largest two of 64 air raids which the Japanese would carry out on the city over the next 18 months.
“They bombed the hospital, the post office and they bombed the aerodrome, they just did as they liked,” Mr Scott said. “We were unlucky enough to be camped between the latter two.” “About 180 bombs were dropped on that one day, and they just kept coming in until we got reinforcements – the yanks with their Kittyhawks – a few months later”.
Nine- hundred Wimmera and Southern Mallee me traveled to the Northern Territory to defend the city as part of the Battalion. Today, Mr Scott is the last known survivor to have served at Darwin still living in the Wimmera, after Nhill’s Robert ‘Frank’ Fischer passed away following a short illness in June 2018.
Mr Scott said he hoped the lessons and failings of Darwin would carry to younger generations. “I hope people acknowledge they’re to be damn-well-here,” he said. “If Japan had landed instead of wasting all that money bombing, they could have walked straight through. We were sitting ducks. We had no ammunition; the guns were alright but no bullets. Some of us had only two or three rounds.
“We had Wirraways up there as our fighter planes and some of them couldn’t get of the ground.” The next few months would see Mr Scott and his Battalion dig their trenches deeper, and continue with their work in a constant, sleep-deprived state of heightened alert rot the next air raid.
Mr Scott recalled his involvement in WW2 in a calm, measured tone. When Mr Scott returned to work on his brothers farm at Gymbowen after being discharged in 1944, the safety was a shock to the system. “It took a bit of time to get back into normal civilisation”, he said. He was also suprised to learn how little people back home knew about what he had been through. “A lot of people in the Wimmera didn’t realise what had happened-they only knew what they heard down in Melbourne,” he said. “What they were told was a lot of crap, they were missled to what the damage was. They were saying everything was ok.”
Excerpt from a story in the Wimmera Mail Times written by Alexander Darling