Friday, 17 February 2017

The Bombing of Darwin 1942

Its 75 years ago since the World War 2 appeared at Australia’s doorstep. On 19/2/1942 at 10am the Battle of Darwin began when the Japanese air force raided hitting infrastructure, fuel supplies, shipping and buildings in town and then the Air Base.  The actual strategy was to hit fuel storage  and disable the (US) military force in Darwin while preparing to invade New Guinea.

Two raids were carried out with 188 aircraft  from the Japanese who had 4 aircraft carriers anchored in the Timor Sea. People  of Darwin possibly only had a few minutes notice of what was happening and fear of what happened previously in Singapore had the civilians in a panic and anxious to leave .

Looting was rife . About half of the population of Darwin including women and children were evacuated or fled south. With the Air force bases targeted, local leadership of the army and the airforce were ill prepared for the aftermath of an attack.

A Report on the Battle of Darwin showed delayed warning and poor leadership Source: Herald 5/10/1945

My father in law Joseph Hudson Ford was with the AIF in a General Transport Company when the attack happened – he never forgot the fear that took over the town.  

We had planned a return trip to Darwin with Joe in 1975 while his son was working there. Sadly Cyclone Tracy in Dec 1974 had better plans. Twice this fine city was levelled.

Today a visit to the city and surrounds greets the tourist with remnants of war and reminders that the “Top End” was to be targeted for attack by the Japanese over 200 times. Bombs were also dropped on Broome, Townsville, Katherine, Port Hedland, Wyndham and Derby.
Reminders of "Top End" defence in Darwin

75 years later we remember the 235 who died  and the hundreds who were injured.  That day thirty aircraft were destroyed.  Nine ships in the harbour  were sunk and two outside also.

Follow more stories on this topic when I travel to New Guinea  to commemorate 75 years since the War in New Guinea.

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