To honour USS Peary sunk in Darwin harbour 1942

I visited the USS Peary memorial today to take some photographs for my American readers and to pay my respects.

The rescued gun from the USS Peary points out to the now peaceful harbour where the destroyer sank with the loss of 89 lives.

The plaque is under the gun and not all that easy to photograph “on the square”/

This memorial is adjacent to the Peary memorial.

The destroyer USS Chafee is in town for the commemoration ceremonies.

Commemoration of the Bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942

This morning’s ceremony was both moving and sobering. However from a photographic point of view not all that easy to represent. General visitors were to one side of the main marquees and a way behind…quite rightly as the priority placement was for the veterans and families and those with connections to the bombing. As a result much of the “action” was seen on the big screen but here are a few photos to give some sense of the day.

Unusually for Darwin, people arrived really early (we’re used to getting places 5 minutes before an event!). This photo was taken at 8am when the crowds hadn’t started to arrive.

Before the crowds. The seating for 5000 was insufficient. Water, fans and a program were provided to all…a big help in the heat. Three big marquees for the VIPs and two on either side for the general public.

These guys were wandering around dressed in laid-back tropical army “uniform” from the 1940s. Needless to say the actual soldiers on duty were dressed rather more formally.( I do love seeing the Light Horse blokes with their emu feather in their slouch hats). There were also a couple of “1940s nurses” around but I didn’t get close enough to photograph them.

Compare and contrast the Catafalque party – not to be envied standing in the blazing sun throughout the ceremony.

Or the American sailors who were also superbly turned out. It appears women still love a sailor as a few wanted to have their photos taken with them. (Personally I’m more of a fan of the fly-boys).

Sailors from the USS Chafee, currently in Darwin harbour.

None of us envied Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer in his Lord Mayoral robes…in the 35C heat! ┬áHer Excellency, Governor General Ms Quentin Bryce, looked very appropriately attired for the heat and had her own impressive array of medals and awards.

Her Excellency the Governor General Ms Quentin Bryce with Darwin’s Lord Mayor, Mr Graeme Sawyer.

The vintage Tiger Moth flown by local man Greg Hardy delighted the crowds.