Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Ai­den Boy­ham

River­gums Pri­mary School in Bal­divis hosted a spe­cial An­zac com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice re­cently, high­lighted by the ap­pear­ance of 93-year-old Dar­win bomb­ing vet­eran Peter Hack­ett.

The cer­e­mony, which was held ear­lier than usual on April 7 be­cause of the up­com­ing school hol­i­days, also had Viet­nam vet­eran Leon Rus­sel, City of Rock­ing­ham Coun­cil­lor Lee Down­ham and Army Re­serve Pri­vate Bran­don Dock­ing make spe­cial ap­pear­ances.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, the school choir led the way in singing a num­ber of songs, with mov­ing po­ems and a wreath-lay­ing ser­vice also tak­ing place.

Mr Hack­ett, who joined the army in 1941, was part of the se­cond heavy anti-air­craft bat­tery based in Dar­win, which came un­der at­tack from the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Navy Air Ser­vice.

In an ad­dress which had stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers of­ten laugh­ing, Mr Hack­ett can­didly spoke about his time in the army, the friends he made and the mo­ment when about 188 Ja­panese air­craft ap­peared in the sky on the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 19, 1942.

“We were all go­ing about our du­ties when a large num­ber of air­craft ap­peared in the sky,” Mr Hack­ett said.

“We were ex­pect­ing large flights of Amer­i­can air­craft to come in and it wasn’t un­til they had opened their bomb bays and dropped bombs on Dar­win that we re­alised they were Ja­panese.

“The town was badly dam­aged and the air force was just about wiped out.”

The cer­e­mony came to a close af­ter the Aus­tralian and New Zealand na­tional an­thems were played, fol­lowed by the Last Post and a minute of si­lence.

Pic­ture: Ai­den Boy­ham

Photo avail­able at west­ Cr Lee Down­ham, Sasha Clarke, 11, prin­ci­pal Josh Jashari, Ju­lian Hor­vath, 11, Pri­vate Bran­don Dock­ing and Viet­nam vet­eran Leon Rus­sel at River­gums Pri­mary School.

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