VET­ERAN RE­MEM­BERS DAR­WIN:

Wanneroo Times - - Front Page - Lucy Jarvis

LEN Snell (96) com­mem­o­rates Anzac Day by at­tend­ing the dawn ser­vice at his RAAFA Es­tate but his own mem­o­ries of World War II are firmly rooted in Dar­win.

The war vet­eran was based at Dar­win’s Noonamah Bar­racks from 1941-43, where he was a postal dis­patch rider in the 43rd Bat­tal­ion.

Mr Snell, whose fa­ther was a World War I sur­vivor, had ini­tially tried to join the navy but was told his chest did not ex­pand to the re­quired mea­sure­ments.

As a 20-year-old, he was go­ing about his usual postal du­ties on Fe­bru­ary 19, 1942 – a day now known as the bomb­ing of Dar­win.

“I was run­ning late that day be­cause I had to an­swer a call of na­ture and those few min­utes saved my life,” he said.

“I heard dron­ing in the dis­tance; at the time we had no idea it was Ja­panese bombers but we ran to the cliffs in panic and dis­be­lief.

“When I then made it back to the post of­fice it had been bombed to the ground, killing the post mas­ter, his wife and daugh­ter and sev­eral oth­ers.

“I’ll never for­get that day. I still clearly remember the hor­rific scenes of death and de­struc­tion and the enor­mous feel­ing of help­less­ness when we saw the town be­ing de­stroyed, later dis­cov­er­ing that more than 240 Aus­tralians had been killed and over 400 in­jured.”

Mr Snell went on to serve in Bor­neo and New Guinea but said his mem­o­ries from both coun­tries could not match the hor­ror of the bomb­ing of Dar­win.

“Only one other post of­fi­cer sur­vived the at­tack and ev­ery­one else I had worked with was killed,” he said.

“Many of my mates thought I had died too and when I even­tu­ally got back to the bar­racks that day there was a huge cheer when they all saw me.”

Mr Snell moved into the RAAFA es­tate in 1996.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Len Snell. d468109

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