NAMBUCCA Heads man Noel Crocker has taken part in a nationwide project to record Darwin’s role in World War II.
Mr Crocker, who served in Darwin in 1941 and later in New Guinea and in the Borneo campaign – was one of 13 subjects interviewed for a special installation at the Northern Territory Defence of Darwin Museum.
The $10 million project commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin and features an interactive exhibition, including first-hand recollections of the impact of the war on Darwin and its inhabitants, both civilian and military.
The producers of the digital component of the program visited Mr Crocker at his Nambucca Heads home earlier this year to interview him and prepare a video account of his experiences.
“It’s a very big project and the process was extensive,” Mr Crocker told the Guardian.
“The interview itself took around six hours and everyone was exhausted at the end of the day. It’s good that they’re trying to gather all of these memories together, but it’s 71 years after the event that they have come to talk about it. Luckily I have a pretty good memory.”
While Mr Crocker was pleased to have taken part, he said that it was “almost too late” for these stories to be gathered, as many of those who served during the conflict have passed.
“I’m one of the youngest from my unit and I’m 91,” he said. “For me it’s a bit late in the day to be doing this. Those from my unit are dying all the time. It’s a shame that they waited this long.”
Despite his regrets that some stories will now never be told, Mr Crocker felt it was a positive experience, and was pleased to have been able to tell his story.
“When I talk about it, I don’t feel distressed,” he said. “I’m a positive type of person and I have the belief that what’s happened has happened. I have a sense of history and this is an historical event, as it was the first time mainland Australia was attacked by an enemy.
“So, whatever I can do to promote education about this, I will do it.”
Mr Crocker is now working with the producers on editing his contribution to the exhibition, painstakingly working through 38 pages of transcripts and two-and-a-half hours of footage in preparation for the final product.
Once compete, the digital stories will be exhibited at the Northern Territory Defence of Darwin Museum and will also be available online via YouTube.