Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

GILES, Colbourne Burleigh

Wharfies

Ships docked at Darwin Harbour.


Colbourne Burleigh Giles was employed by Burns Philp & Co Ltd as a labourer on the wharf. He was a member of the No.17 gang on the day of the bombing of Darwin. Giles was wounded in the raid and sent south on the Hospital Ship Manunda. His mother lived in Sandgate and asked the Red Cross to assist in finding her son.

The Acting Secretary of the Red Cross sent a written query to the Chief Air Warden of Darwin, noting that Giles’ brother, Tobias, was in a hospital in Western Australia receiving treatment, having lost his foot during the bombing. Mrs Giles was also anxious about obtaining payments which had been held up because of the telegram sent from Darwin stating that her son Colbourne was evacuated from Darwin on a hospital ship.

Many female relatives of those who lost their lives in the Darwin raid subsequently found themselves in financial straits. The Government Secretary told the Red Cross in a letter dated 7 May 1942 that Giles had died in the raid. He also bluntly informed them in a separate letter that the likelihood of recovering any of his personal possessions, such as pay books, was remote at best:

'In the early days, before the town was brought under proper control, practically everything of this nature was ‘gone over’ by looters.' (From Darwin Raids - Casualty Lists and Enquiries 1942/364 p.199, National Archives of Australia)

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