Exactly 70 years ago today the Japanese attacked and devastated Darwin in a morning bombing raid.
Unlike Pearl Harbour the bombing of Darwin was not widely known. In fact the authorities in Australia played down the bombing fearing widespread panic throughout the rest of Australia.
Australia and in particular Darwin was ill prepared for such an event. With only a population of around 4000 the town relied on telegraph to communicate with the rest of Australia.
The attacks came in two waves about an hour apart.
After the attacks chaos took over and because of looting/troop desertion/ bad leadership among both civilian and military personnel what happened at Darwin that day was like a dirty secret to be kept from the eyes and ears of anyone who wasn’t there.
Many feared invasion but the attacks were done to hinder Darwin’s ability as a base from which attacks could be launched as well as hopefully damage Australian morale. On both counts Japan was successful.
The 19th of February, 1942 saw the worst loss of life on Australian soil in wartime. Over 240 people died in Darwin.
This was first of many air attacks that continued through to 1943. People there at the time recall Darwin being bombed every full moon as pilots relied on the light of the moon to know where to drop their bombs.
More bombs were dropped on Darwin on the 19th of February than were dropped on Pearl Harbour.
Yet it is only recently that the day is being acknowledged and remembered.
Better late than never I guess.
- Darwin uses battleship chic to remember its darkest days (smh.com.au)
- Remembering The 70th Anniversary Of The Bombing Of Darwin This Sunday (garyware.me)
- How Darwin was betrayed (theage.com.au)