Australians fought heroically to defend Australia in Darwin and places like the Kokoda Track. Our country had its back to the wall during this time, fighting against a very formidable enemy. When it comes to courage, mateship and sacrifice, you will not find any better example than the Australians who gave their all to save Australia and their loved ones on our mainland. If one is looking for the true character of the Australian spirit, it would be at the graves of Australians who died to our North during WW2. "To stand on my homeland, surrounded by our war dead, who fought heroically to defend Australia and their loved ones down the track, was a profound experience and initiated the creation of the song." - Peter Barnes
A total of 434 WW2 war graves, marked by bronze plaques, are contained in the Adelaide River War Cemetery. The burials are made up of 14 airmen of the RAF, 12 unidentified men of the British Merchant Navy, one soldier of the Canadian Army, 18 sailors, 181 soldiers and 201 airmen of the Australian Forces and seven men of the Australian Merchant Navy. The Northern Territory Memorial to the Missing honours a further 292 Servicemen and women lost to the north of Australia. The adjacent civil section contains the graves of the nine Post Office staff killed on 19 February 1942 during the bombing of Darwin, one of 63 separate occasions from that date. The civilian casualties of WW2 include those of 31 Indigenous Australians.
The song on this website has been used for commemorative purposes across Australia by schools, churches, choirs, bands, councils, retirement homes, military services, RSL branches and ANZAC tributes at NRL & AFL matches. Radio stations throughout Australia have broadcast the song leading up to ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. The song is also requested to be played at funerals (for veterans). Information regarding the song 'Can You Hear Australia's Heroes Marching?' - The heroes song was created from Peter Barnes' experience in visiting the Adelaide River War Cemetery (114 kms south of Darwin) in the Northern Territory and seeing the graves of Australians who gave their lives in the service and defence of their country. Peter felt he should do something within his capabilities to honour the memory of such incredible sacrifice.
The following information comes from Wikipedia - The bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 was both the first and the largest single attack mounted by a foreign power against Australia. On this day, 242 Japanese aircraft attacked ships in Darwin's harbour and the town's two airfields in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases to contest the invasions of Timor and Java. The town was only lightly defended, and the Japanese inflicted heavy losses upon the Allied forces at little cost to themselves. The urban areas of Darwin also suffered some damage from the air raids, and there were a number of civilian casualties.
A greater number of bombs were dropped on Darwin than were used in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The air raids on Darwin represented a psychological blow to the Australian population, several weeks after hostilities with Japan had begun. The air raids were the first and largest of almost 100 air raids against Australia.
In 1942, Darwin was a small town with limited civil and military infrastructure. Due to its strategic position in northern Australia the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force had constructed bases near the town in the 1930s and early years of WW2. Darwin's pre-war population was 5,800.
Following the outbreak of the Pacific War in early December 1941, Darwin's defences were strengthened. In line with plans developed before the war, several Australian Army and RAAF units stationed in the town were also sent to the Netherlands East Indies to strengthen the defences of the islands of Ambon and Timor. In the two months before the air raids, all but 2,000 civilians were evacuated from the town. Japanese submarines I-121 and I123 laid mines off Darwin in January 1942.
By mid-February 1942 Darwin had become an important Allied base (included American, British and Canadian forces) for the defence of the NEI. The Japanese had captured Ambon, Borneo and Celebes between December 1941 and early-February 1942. Landings on Timor were scheduled for 20 February, and an invasion of Java was planned to take place shortly afterwards. In order to protect these landings from Allied interference, the Japanese military command decided to conduct a major air raid on Darwin. On 10 February a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft overflew the town, and identified an aircraft carrier (actually the seaplane tender USS Langley), five destroyers and 21 merchant ships in Darwin Harbour as well as 30 aircraft at the town's two airfields.
After the massive 19 February 1942 Japanese raid, the Northern Territory and parts of Western Australia's north were bombed 62 more times between 4 March 1942 and 12 November 1943. One of the heaviest attacks took place on 16 June 1942 when a large Japanese force set fire to the oil fuel tanks around the harbour and inflicted severe damage to the vacant banks, stores and railway yards. The Allied navies largely abandoned the naval base at Darwin after the initial 19 February attack, dispersing most of their forces to Brisbane, Fremantle and other smaller ports. Conversely, Allied air commanders launched a major build-up in the Darwin area, building more airfields and deploying many squadrons.
The four Japanese aircraft carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu) that participated in the Bombing of Darwin were later sunk during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. A memorial ceremony is held every year on 19 February at the Cenotaph in Darwin. 2012 marks the 70th year anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.
Disclaimer: Information on this website comes from sources like Wikipedia, that can be considered to be reliable, however, we take no responsibility and will not be held liable for any errors in the information on this website. For instance, battle and/or war casualty numbers can vary from different sources.
You can download the popular Northern Territory song 'It's Our Territory' FOR FREE - Click Here to go to the web page to download the song.
You can now download the Original Version (2001) of "Can You Hear Australia's Heroes Marching?" FOR FREE at the song's official website download page HERE
The song has touched many people's hearts over the past 14 years and at this very special time in Australia, with the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 2015 and the ANZAC Centenary 2014 - 2018, the author of the song has made the song available for free.