Written by Norman Cramp, Director of Darwin Military Museum.
Those Associations, and there were hundreds of them formed around Australia after the First and Second World Wars, were formed by members of various military Units or by civilians who banded together in an effort to maintain the contact and friendships forged through the war years, to commemorate those who were no longer with us, to remember what had happened and to keep the history alive so that it would never (hopefully) be repeated.
Over the past few years, Darwin (and Australia) has witnessed the passing of several such Associations. Organisation such as the Darwin Commemoration Association that was made up primarily of civilians who were either in Darwin at the time of the first raids or were evacuated residents of the town.
One of the Association’s founding members and Secretary, Mrs Ena FitzPatrick (nee Dalton), was a key and very active member of the Association until she passed away in 1991. Mrs. FitzPatrick’s daughter, Pam, kindly donated the ‘flyer’ along with a large number of photo boards, letters and certificates to the Darwin Military Museum in July 2018.
As the Association has not been known to hold any Bombing of Darwin commemorative services since the mid-1990s, it is believed the Association has now become defunct. However, through Pam FitzPatrick’s generosity, the memory of the Association and its members lives on.
Whilst some of us in Darwin have memories of some of the members of the ‘Rats Association’, such as Ken Ackland, a ‘boy soldier’ attached to a British Army Armoured Regiment at Tobruk, the only ‘living memory’ of the NT chapter of the Association is their banner. The banner, which is displayed at the Darwin Military Museum (DMM), East Point Darwin, was carried high and proud by the Association’s members in every ANZAC Day parade from the early 1950s.
All of the members of the ‘Rats Association NT’, have now passed, but thanks to the generosity and the interests of the Darwin RSL Sub Branch and the DMM in preserving the history and the memory of the Association, the story and the legend lives on.
Lest We Forget