Australian Soldiers go for a dip at Adelaide River under the watchful eye of a mate sitting on the remains of Verburg’s Dam with a 303 at the ready. Crocs were an ever present danger at such locations.
Ref: Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria. – colourised photo
Following the first Japanese air-raids on Darwin on 19th Feb 1942, Australian & American military headquarters were relocated from Darwin to Adelaide River. Military airfields at Adelaide River, Coomalie Creek & Pell were built along with an artillery & weapons range at Tortilla Flats.
MILITARY BUILD UP
Adelaide River was first designated a rest camp and farm area by the Army. Activity accelerated after the first raids on Darwin in February 1942 when communications, transport and ammunitions storage and other units were hastily established in the region.
To cope with the growing population in WWII, the Army built a new hospital in Darwin only for it to be bombed days later during the first Japanese attack. The 119th Australian General Hospital was moved south to Adelaide River. Tent wards, administration, mess halls and accommodation were all built of canvas construction walls that were rolled up to catch any cooling breezes.
120 nurses were stationed at Adelaide River at any one time. The nurses quarters were very large huts, divided into sections, which held 6 beds in each section. They travelled on the back of trucks from their quarters to the Army Hospital.
Nurses relaxing with the animals outside the sisters mess. Sisters Charlton, Sheehan, Haynes, Williams, Johnson, Schultz, Lyons, 119 Australian General Hospital.
The Adelaide River War Cemetery is a sobering reminder of the impact World War II had on Top End of Australia created especially for the burial of servicemen and women who died in this part of Australia. It was used by Australian General Hospitals 101, 107, 119, 121 and 129. After the war, the Army Graves Service moved graves from civil cemeteries, isolated sites and temporary military burial grounds, into the Adelaide River War Cemetery.
FIRST NATIONS SERVICE
First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for Australia for over 65,000 years. They also have a proud history of military service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) that continues today. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served in each of the major wars and conflicts in which Australia has been involved since World War I and have taken part in peacekeeping operations.
FIRST NATIONS SERVICE
Referred to as ‘Corporal Dolly’, she was the leader of a group of young indigenous women working at the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) Barracks at Adelaide River during the Second World War. After the war, Dolly spent years fighting for land rights for her people. She was a signatory to the Larrakia Petition, appealing to Queen Elizabeth to help Aboriginal people of Australia gain land rights and political representation.
Visit our Adelaide River History and WWII Display behind the beer garden at the Adelaide River Inn Tourist Park