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Meet Gunner, our very own four-legged war hero! Legend goes, Gunner was a kelpie puppy who developed an uncanny knack of forecasting air raids in Darwin. It began on this day in 1942, when he broke his leg in Darwin's first air raid. He was rescued by Leading Aircraftman Percy Westcott (pictured), who took him to see the doctor at the RAAF base. About a week later the puppy was on the mend, but he would begin jumping and whining every time danger was again on the way - long before human ears could hear the engines. Over the next few months, every time Gunner got agitated, sure enough, an air attack followed, after he'd given his human friends a few valuable minutes' notice. Sometimes his alert began 20 minutes before the enemy planes flew over. There were more than 60 raids over Darwin in 1942 and 1943. It’s not known how many lives Gunner may have saved.

Published: 19 February 2017

Picture: Australian War Memorial 044608


Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

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