18368 Leading Aircraftman Leonard Arthur Barton, RAAF Station Headquarters Darwin


Rainbow war memorial

Author: Australian War Memorial

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Ground battle 19 February 1942              

Leonard Barton was born on 13 November 1910 in Rainbow, Victoria, the eldest son of Arthur and Sophia Barton.
He grew up in Rainbow, a small town in north-west Victoria, about 400 kilometres from Melbourne, where he worked as a motor mechanic and fitter. With a decade of experience, he went on to run his own garage.

On 9 October 1932, Barton married Marjory Stewart, and in the following years a daughter, Betty, and a son, Robert, were born to the couple.

Barton’s father died in 1939, and the following year another son was added to the family, Denis, who was born on 14 June 1940.

Just over a year later, on 30 August 1940, Leonard Barton enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force as a fitter.

After attending a recruit drill course, in March 1941 he had a brief posting to a stores depot in Port Melbourne. His next, posting, however, would be further from home. After making his way overland to the Northern Territory, Leading Aircraftman Leonard Arthur Barton was posted to RAAF Station Headquarters in Darwin.

On 19 February 1942 Japanese fighters and bombers attacked Darwin. The first wave of the raid began just before 10 am. Heavy bombers struck harbour installations and the town, while dive bombers, escorted by Zero fighters, attacked shipping in the harbour, military and civil aerodromes, and the hospital at Berrimah. Just before midday, the second wave arrived, with high altitude bombing of the Royal Australian Air Force base.

The largest single attack mounted by a foreign power on Australia, the raids damaged ships, aircraft, and buildings, killed at least 243 people and wounded between 300 and 400.

Among the dead was Leading Aircraftman Leonard Arthur Barton. He was 31 years old.

Today, his remains lie in Adelaide River War Cemetery, alongside 435 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.

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