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Speaker Review

Peter Sweeney


For our June Meeting, our guest speaker was retired Lieutenant Colonel Peter Sweeney RFD, who gave a presentation on 'The Bombing of Northern Australia'.

Peter's talk was very interesting and he covered the Japanese bombing of towns across northern Australia, from Learmouth in WA to Townsville in Qld.

He detailed the opposing forces which for the Australians were mainly militia artillerymen and RAAF aircraft personnel and aircraft.  Peter described the attacks on Darwin and Broome in detail.  For Darwin, he covered the response by the defenders which, in some cases, reflected poorly on the Australian Military.  For Broome, he outlined how Dutch refugees, who were sitting in flying boats awaiting take off, were killed by the attacking Japanese Zeros.

Peter finished his presentation by explaining the aftermath of the raids which saw Australia in crisis with the AIF overseas, the Americans starting to arrive and with only the Militia to provide defence against the Japanese advance into the south west Pacific.

A number of members asked questions at the end and Peter took the opportunity to explain some aspects of the bombings in more detail.

Peter recommended the following books to members about the topic:

 'An Awkward Truth' by Peter Grose, published by Allen & Unwin

 'Australia Under Attack' by Douglass Lockwood, published by New Holland Publishers

Peter recommends the web site for members wishing to undertake research of the military service of family members.

Overall the members found the presentation very informative.

Peter is a director of Battle Honours Australia and, in concert with Battle Honours UK, conducts walking tours of Australian battlefields at Gallipoli, The Western Front and The Pacific Region.  He can be contacted via for details.

Karin Thompson

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