VETERANS and family members have gathered in Bendigo to mark 80 years since the battle for Darwin.
Australian forces endured 64 bombing raids in 1942.
They were some of World War Two's darkest days.
Japan had rapidly moved through much of the south Pacific following British and Allied forces disastrous loss of Singapore days earlier.
America was still reeling from Japan's surprise attack and Australians were considering the very real threat of invasion.
Then, in Darwin, an armada of 200 Japanese airplanes appeared, eight decades ago on Saturday.
Hundreds of people would die in the months that followed.
Their sacrifices were front and centre at the Bendigo RSL as it commemorated the anniversary.
So too were those of some of the last Darwin Defenders still alive, including Bendigo's Bill Hosking, who attended with loved ones.
He was stationed at an airbase 75 miles away on the first day of the bombings and would spend nine months defending Australia as the explosives fell.
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