The first prisoner of war captured on Australian soil wasn’t apprehended by a soldier, but a young Aboriginal man on a remote Northern Territory island.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove has recognised the efforts of indigenous people in defending the nation when Japanese planes bombed Darwin during WWII.
He said the Tiwi Islands community, north of Darwin, has enormous significance in Australian modern history.
He said – “This community was the first to see the attack on Australian soil in 1942,”.
Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Darwin – the most destructive attack mounted by a foreign power on Australia.
Three quarters of a century ago, 21-year-old Tiwi islander Matthias Ulungura also made history.
The young hunter captured Japanese pilot Hijime Toyoshima after he crashed-landed on Melville Island during the air raids.
Wearing only a loincloth, Mr Ulungura jabbed the pilot in the back with the handle of his tomahawk, pretending it was the barrel of a gun.
Sir Peter met the war hero’s descendants on Monday at a statute erected last year to commemorate his bravery on nearby Bathurst Island.
Other Tiwi Islanders worked as coastwatchers, or helped build radar stations and runways during the assaults, which continued on northern Australia for the next two years.