Historic bell gets new home

HISTORIC BELL: The bell from the Gunbar.
HISTORIC BELL: The bell from the Gunbar.

A BELL from the first ship to be targeted during the bombing of Darwin in 1942 is now on display in the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.

And there is a local connection with the vessel the bell came from.

HMAS Gunbar was trying to sail out of Darwin harbour when the first raid hit Darwin on February 19, 1942.

During the raid, nine of the crew of 17 were injured, but the vessel wasn't sunk, and helped in the rescue of other sailors.

Before the war, however, the Gunbar was owned by the North Coast Steam and Navigation Company.

Her final run before being taken over for war service was from Ballina to Sydney in 1940.

She was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy as an auxiliary minesweeper in 1940, and saw service on the east and west coasts of Australia before being sent to Darwin.

The bell from the ship was donated to the Ballina museum by local man Jim Spencer and sons.

Curator Ron Creber said the Ballina museum was lucky to have it because it was sought by a museum in Darwin.

Mr Spencer was given the bell by former owner of the Ballina Slipway, Stuart White, when the pair were neighbours.

Mr White received the bell after the Gunbar was scrapped in Sydney after the war.

The Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum is located in Regatta Avenue, behind the Ballina library and visitor centre.

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