Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

CONANAN, Ricardo Warivin


Ships docked at Darwin Wharf.

Ricardo Conanan worked on the wharf as a hatchman. He was of Filipino descent and born on Thursday Island.

Conanan’s father was Tolentino Garcia Conanan, who died in April 1929 aged approximately sixty-nine. Tolentino was a native of the Philippines who came to Australia in about 1881 and spent the last eighteen years of his life in the Northern Territory. A naturalised Briton, fluent in both Spanish and English, Tolentino made a living fishing with hand lines off the Darwin Wharf.

Conanan enlisted on 6 October 1915 in the First Australian Imperial Forces (AIF). He travelled to Queensland with the Fourth Contingent from Darwin, where he was discharged, unfit with sciatica. 

Conanan received a mention in the Northern Standard in July 1934 for his musical ability. A dance organised by the Darwin branch of the Workers International Relief at the Immigrant’s Home and the Two Mile was accompanied by '…splendid dance music supplied by the Manila String Band, assisted by Ricardo Conanan.'

(From the Northern Standard, 10 July 1934)
In September 1934, Conanan was charged under the Aboriginals Ordinance (which was described by the Northern Standard as 'much criticised' in the article covering the event). The charge was for supplying alcoholic liquor to Mrs Juliet Palmer. Conanan was convicted without penalty or costs. In August 1941 he was arrested for playing Two Up, and fined £1.

Conanan was about forty years of age and married to Lucy Conanan. He had a brother, Elias, who served in the 26th Battalion in the First AIF, and two sisters, Gertrude Spain and Mrs Henry Lee, living in the Territory. Gertrude Spain lost both her brother and her husband on the wharf that day.

On the day of the raid on Darwin Wharf Conanan had forgotten he was rostered on to work and his gang was undermanned; one of his colleagues was sent to retrieve him. He was found asleep at home in Cavanagh Street and came to work thirty minutes late. He had just knocked off for smoko at the recreation hut when he saw the Japanese planes and heard the bombs falling.

"Good-bye boys," he shouted. "I’ll see you in the next world."

Seconds later he was dead.

(From Australia under attack, p.66)

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