On January 22, 1943, the Pat Cam set off for Elcho Island with 19 crew, a Methodist pastor and five aboriginal passengers on board.
About noon a Japanese sea plane cut its engine and dived to about 30m, dropping a bomb which tore through the ship’s hold.
The sea plane returned several times, strafing the survivors who clung to debris and a life raft, before landing nearby and capturing the pastor Reverend Leonard Kentish, who was later beheaded.
Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the vessel’s bombing and the loss of nine lives.
Around 100 people including Navy members based at HMAS Coonawarra Naval Base attended the service in Darwin. HMAS Patricia Cam was travelling from Elcho Island in North East Arnhem Land to Yirrkala via Cape Wessel on a mission to drop four Yolngu men back to Yirrkala with code books.