Mr and Mrs Harry Dalton
Mr and Mrs Harry Dalton lived through a number of Japanese raids on the Top End. Harry Dalton worked as an employee on the railway and was a member of the Darwin Gun Club. His wife refused at first to be evacuated, choosing to remain with her husband. This was not an uncommon occurrence, as several families refused to leave the Top End after the initial raids. When Mrs Dalton did finally submit to a compulsory evacuation, it was with the last group of evacuees, a large group of aboriginal women whose departure was supervised by her daughter Ena Dalton.
Mr and Mrs Dalton evacuated to Mataranka where the 7th Military District was based. There were thousands of men in the Mataranka camp and Mrs Dalton helped in the kitchens, sewed for the men and made “thousands of cups of tea”. The couple then moved on to Birdum, which also had a large American army camp. Mrs Dalton performed many of the same duties at Birdum as she did at Mataranka. After the War, she continued to receive letters from the Americans that she had come to know.
Royal Australian Engineers
The RAE received their army training at Mataranka, which was described by Jack Holder; “We had to survive on a bottle of water a day as part of our training, plus Bren, Owen, and Thompson machine guns, I loved it”.
After completing their training at Mataranka, engineer Jack Holder recalled; “…back to Darwin, and at one stage all troops were set out along the coast line for a couple of nights and day, this was when things were not faring too well in New Guinea, I’m sure they were expecting an invasion force to arrive, they would have had a ball if they did, as we had only been given five bullets, and other than the Mataranka troops, had very little training … during the night [someone yelled out] “What do we do when we fire our five bullets”? The answer would come back, “You only fire four…you save the last one for yourself”.