Darwin evacuee to mark bombing's 75th anniversary
JANET Dickinson was too young to remember being evacuated aboard the Zealandia but that did not stop the young woman from being affected by the Battle for Australia.
"Having been evacuated, it's always been part of my life," Mrs Dickinson said.
Japanese bombers attacked Darwin on February 19, 1942, and Mrs Dickinson, along with other survivors and evacuees, have travelled to the Northern Territory this weekend to mark its 75th anniversary.
"It means the world," she said of this weekend's pilgrimage to Darwin.
Mrs Dickinson was only two at the time, but was one of more than 500 people, mainly women and children, who were evacuated by the Zealandia.
Taken to Sydney with her pregnant mother and two siblings, Mrs Dickinson said the ship was grossly overcrowded.
Mrs Dickinson's family reached Sydney, though when the Zealandia returned to Darwin it was sunk in air raids in 1942.
"I wasn't able to remember it at the time as I was only two, but this was all transferred to me," Mrs Dickinson said.
"When we were down south, if I heard a plane go over I'd cringe and listen for the whistle of bombs. I never heard bombs, but I was aware this had happened and I guess my mother knew Darwin was bombed.
"There is still a lot of people don't know much about it. Darwin was bombed 73 times over a period of nearly two years."
She described her father, Boyne Licthfield, as a jack of all trades. He could butcher and worked as a drover, and during Second World War was drafted into the North Australian railway.
Mrs Dickinson laughed as she recalled their first meeting.
"When dad arrived I had no idea who he was. I was four at that time," she said.
"I wandered into the bathroom and there was this man having a shower. He must've been embarrassed.
"He gave me a purse and I went running out saying 'mum, mum, look what the man in bathroom gave me!'."
Mrs Dickinson has written six books on both bombings and experiences of evacuees.
She has also helped organise evacuee reunions.
The bombing's 75th anniversary will be commemorated at Darwin's Bicentennial Park tomorrow.