Dignitaries attend air raid memorial
March 9, 2017
International and Australian dignitaries and visitors joined hundreds of community representatives to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Broome air raid last Friday.
Crowds braved scorching temperatures to remember the dark chapter in Broome's history when war came to paradise and claimed the lives of at least 88 people in a devastating and deadly attack.
In a moving memorial service held at Bedford Park, the harrowing events that occurred in Broome 75 years ago were vividly brought to life with words and performance as a tribute to those who lost their lives.
Victims including Dutch women and children refugees died on the morning of March 3, 1942, when nine Japanese Zero fighters and a reconnaissance plane swooped down over Broome, killing civilians and destroying 22 Australian, Dutch and US aircraft.
The World War II air raid was the second-greatest wartime loss of life on Australian soil.
Descendants of the victims and survivors travelled far and wide to attend the service and pay their respects. Special guests included Premier Colin Barnett, Opposition leader Mark McGowan and Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price.
A host of international dignitaries also attended the service, including Netherlands ambassador Erica Schouten, deputy Head of mission of Japan Takashi Katae, US consul-general Rachel Cooke and Indian consul-general Amit Kumar Mishra.
Mr Katae expressed his "sincerest condolences" on behalf of the Japanese Government for the "countless lives" lost.
"Japan will never forget that it inflicted immeasurable damage and suffering on Broome and other parts of Australia." Mr Barnett said 75 years ago, "war came to paradise, resulting in a "tragic loss of life".
Ms Schouten recounted the day the doomed air crew and refugees fled the Dutch East Indies after the Japanese invasion, believing they had reached safety in Australia.
She paid tribute to the Dutch relatives of the victims and survivors of the attack who had visited Broome for the anniversary.
She also thanked the Broome community and acknowledged the strong relationship between Australia and the Netherlands.
Ms Cooke said the anniversary was an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives and reflect on their sacrifices.
A highlight of the service was a powerful and moving performance by St Mary's College students, while the Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders led prayers.
Other highlights included a welcome to country, a song, a traditional smoking ceremony, wreath-laying and a flypast by the Royal Australian Air Force.
This was followed by a postmemorial service gathering at the Broome RSL.
Other community events were organised to coincide with the anniversary including a guided walking tour to the Catalina flying boat wrecks in Roebuck Bay, a documentary scree ning and a uniform donation at Broome Historical Museum.
Source: Broome Advertiser.