An Aboriginal community on the northern tip of WA is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Japanese air-raids that killed six people.

On 27 September 1943, Japanese fighter planes flew along the Mitchell Plateau coastline, spraying bombs and bullets into the small mission community of Kalumburu.

Five local people were killed, including a mother and four children. The head of the mission, established in 1908 by Benedictine monks, also died.

Several buildings were destroyed, and the church damaged. The funeral services were held in the partly-collapsed chapel, and the six were buried at the local cemetery.

Kalumburu was targeted because of the Royal Australian Air force base that had been built there, due to its proximity to the Japanese-occupied East Indies.

Father Nicholas Kipkemboi, who has been based at the Kalumburu parish for almost three years, is helping organise the 70th anniversary commemorations.

He says two plaques will be unveiled, one at the rebuilt church.

"The second one will be down in the field where the bomb was dropped that killed Father Thomas Gill and the five Aboriginal people," he said.

"It talks about the bomb and has the names of the six people on it."

Father Kipkemboi says it is a significant day for the community, which is one of the most isolated in Australia.

"It is really important day for us because I believe this is the first [commemoration] since the bombing. It will bring people together, and it will bring the community together," he said.

"They will learn a bit more of the history. Because these people that were killed, they were mostly relatives of the families here in Kalumburu today."

But the day will not be entirely sombre. There's a lunchtime barbecue planned, complete with bush tucker and games for the local children, including a water bomb fight.

 

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