Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

SIMONS, Robert Frederick

LATHAM, Phillips Stonham

A trench after the retrieval of bodies. Source: NTAS, Latham, NTRS 1402, Item 6.

Corporal Robert Simons (26040) was born on 24 September 1921 in Adelaide, South Australia, to Frederick Quartermaine and Mabel Bessie Simons. Simons was living at 46 Lewanick Street, Allenby Gardens, South Australia, and working in the meat industry, when he enlisted on 18 March 1940. 

Simons was serving as a guard at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Station Headquarters when Darwin was bombed on 19 February 1942.

The only aerial defence during the bombing was provided by a squadron of Kittyhawks from the 33rd Pursuit Squadron USAAF. Led by Major Floyd Pell, the Kittyhawks had just arrived in Darwin after turning back from a flight to Koepang because of bad weather. Four pilots, including Major Pell, were killed as they fought bravely against the overwhelming number of Japanese Zeros.

Seven RAAF Station personnel also died on the ground, including Corporal Simons. He was twenty years old. Buildings and facilities on the airfield were also severely damaged but the base continued to operate throughout the war.

In The Advertiser (February 1943), Simons was remembered by his grandparents, Mr and Mrs W. D. Robinson, and his uncles, Les and Bob of Mount Gambier. His parents honoured him with:

'He wore no shining medals, could not sign his name V.C.: but he died a dinkum hero, just to keep Australia free. Beautiful memories, mother, father.'

His sisters Rhonda and Betty also inserted: 'A beautiful life full of kind deeds and generous thoughts for others needs. Always loving, unselfish and kind.'

Mr and Mrs Caldwell, Mrs Cahill, May, Alb, Von, and Doug also honoured his memory.

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