In Their Footsteps: July 3

In Their Footsteps profiles Les Semken who enlisted in the army after the bombing of Darwin in 1942.

Sunday’s episode of In Their Footsteps profiles Les Semken, a man who enlisted in the army after the bombing of Darwin.

When the Japanese bombed Darwin on February 19, 1942, the damage was devastating – but the silence was deafening.

News of the shock attack was limited and most Australians were oblivious to the death and destruction on their own shores.

As a civilian contractor working at Darwin aerodrome when the bombs fell, Les was so incensed that he enlisted in the Army the next day. This was a major turnaround for Les, who until then had no interest in joining up. Now the war had suddenly become very personal.

Nearly 70 years later, Les’s granddaughter Kathryn is also on a very personal mission: to learn about the war that came right to her grandfather and to Australia. Kathryn knows that at 90, Les won’t be around much longer to tell her the story himself about the fateful moment that changed his life and shaped the destiny of his family.

This is a tender tale about a 25-year-old woman taking time out from her busy life to learn the lessons of an elder; to understand the history that moulded her grandfather at much the same age. It is a war story about the wisdom of elders and the galvanising experiences of our youth.

It airs Sunday, July 3, at 6.30pm on Nine.

4 Responses

  1. my grandfather was also working in Darwin at this time making the airfields and I am interested in knowing the name of the video that was given to the lady at the end of the show was it The Forgotten and how can I get a copy your help will be greatly appreciated thankyou

  2. My father was posted in Darwin WW2 1942
    He has been living here off and on since 1978, when I moved here.
    He has tracked all over the top end looking at where he was camped.
    He pasted away 27 May 2011: He would have so loved to have seen your show.
    As he has shown all of us , his travels & stories.

    Name Cox, Stanley Roland
    Service Australian Army
    Service Number Wx30187
    Date Of Birth 13 Nov 1922
    Place Of Birth Stawell, Vic
    Date Of Enlistment 13 Jul 1942
    Locality On Enlistment Kalgoorlie, Wa
    Place Of Enlistment Bellevue, Wa
    Next Of Kin Cox, Charles
    Date Of Discharge 3 Apr 1946
    Rank Private
    Posting At Discharge 16 Australian Infantry Battalion

  3. My Grand father was posted their in WW2 1942 in the RAAF and i cant help but think i saw a clip of him in tonights episode early when they were describing the RAAF practicing. He was shot x2 and had to belly land his plane up there i would love to know more.. Leonard Barnes DOB 5.10.1920


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