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Progenitor : the official quarterly journal of the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc.



Progenitor : the official quarterly journal of the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc.


Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc.


Progenitor; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Progenitor






Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; The Family History Place




Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory; Genealogy; Periodicals

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Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc.

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DECEMBER 2014, VOL 33 NO 4

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Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc.



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DECEMBER 2014 VOL 33 NO 4 68 DR JOE MCELHONE - HMAHS MANUNDA Country doctor and loved man of the services 1896 1947 Extracted for the book of the same name written by Marianne Payten. Reprinted by kind permission. The book is in our library. DARWIN In late February 1941, Uncle Joe was appointed to Darwin, as Assistant Director Army Medical Services for the Northern Territory, including the new 1200-bed 119 Australian General (Army) Hospital at Bagot, a Darwin suburb. Auntie Nell, carrying the family silver in her luggage, flew up there with him. Darwin had grown into a defence town with more than 5000 troops, centred on Larrakeyah Barracks. The McElhones became part of the higher echelon of Darwin society, living in a tropical fibro cottage and enjoying occa sions at Government House. A typical Darwin house in 1940 de signed by B Burnett Three fateful events quickly changed this somewhat idyllic life: the attack on Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941, the fall of Singapore, February 15, 1942 and only four days later, a ferocious attack on Darwin by 188 Japanese planes. Sometime before this it seems Auntie Nell was evacuated on board an America vessel, one of six civilian women who were the last to leave Darwin. Nell was safely back at her mothers flat in Randwick but the McElhones time together over the next four years would be limited to shore leave, allowing them a few brief visits back to Kempsey. Of the more than 40 ships sheltering in Darwin Harbour that day a most significant one for Joe was the hospital ship Manunda, where, not long after, he would take command for most of the remaining war years. On the morning of 19 February 1942, Manunda was damaged during the Japanese air raids on Darwin, de spite her highly prominent Red Cross markings on a white background. 13 members of the ships crew and hospital staff were killed, 19 others were seriously wounded and another 40 or so received minor wounds. The Manunda was able to act as a casualty clearing station for injured personnel from other ships involved in the attack. She sailed to Fremantle the next day. Although it was itself quite significantly damaged, the Darwin military hospital (119 Australian General Hospital, part of Joes area of responsibility) was also vital in treating survivors. (The 119 Australian General Hospital staff) cared for hundreds of cases of burns from ships ablaze in the harbour. Every ward had wounded in every available bed, and also on the verandahs. (They) worked with