He wasn’t a soldier, but Neville Robert Mogg commands a special place at the Adelaide River War Cemetery south of Darwin.
Neville was a carpenter and, with his friend and fellow carpenter Ronald James Giess, was taking shelter at Kahlin Beach on 15 June 1942.
Neville and Ronald’s part in the Darwin war story began with the 19 February 1942 bombing of Darwin, the deadly first raid by 88 Japanese aircraft.
On that day, the Post Office received a direct strike, killing 10 staff, mostly women. 235 people were killed in those first attacks and hundreds were injured. 30 Allied aircraft were destroyed and 11 ships sunk.
Initially, the Australian Government announced that only seventeen civilians had been killed in the town. Over the following days newspapers reported on the raids, although the majority of reports were incomplete and inaccurate.
The Lowe Commission was established by the Government to determine the extent of the damage, and on 31 March, less than six weeks after the raid, the Prime Minister announced that no more than 240 people had been killed. The air attacks on Darwin continued until November 1943, by which time the Japanese had bombed Darwin sixty-four times with air raids on Nhulunbuy, Katherine, Millingimbi, Batchelor and Adelaide River.
Neville and Ronald came to Darwin in the months following the first raid to work on repairs to various structures in the town. They had been working on repairs to the military ward of the Civil Hospital which had been damaged in the first raid.
The 15 June 1942 air raid saw high explosive, incendiary and anti-personnel bombs scattered throughout the town. The following day, Mr E R Harvey sent the following telegram on behalf of the Works Director to the Director-General of Works, Department of the Interior: “Air raid Darwin ﬁfteenth June am advised that Neville Mogg, carpenter and Ronald James Giess, carpenter employed this branch Darwin killed Stop”
The two men were buried in the Darwin Cemetery that afternoon with Reverend Chris Goy officiating. Harvey later stated: “Both men were excellent tradesmen, and highly respected by their fellow workers, and a large number attended their funerals.”
A plaque dedicated to the memory of Neville Mogg can be found in the lawn of the civilian section of the Adelaide River War Cemetery.