SpecialEdition

Bombing

THE STORY SO FAR

Mission Island and Darwin are bombed by the Japanese.

INSPIRED BY THESE HISTORICAL EVENTS

Casualties in the first Japanese raid on Darwin

That day 23 ships were hit in the raid as well as the Post Office, Darwin Hospital, the local prison and the airfield. The official number of Australians and allies who were killed during the two raids, which took place that day, was 243. However, local sources estimated the number to be double that with some claiming it to have been as high as between 900 and 1100. The official number doesn't take into account the Aboriginal population who remained in Darwin. Following the bombing, headlines in eastern states announced 15 killed and 24 injured. For many years, government censorship limited coverage of the event to protect public morale in the southern states of Australia. (Source: Australia's Pearl Harbor by Douglas Lockwood, Darwin 1942 by Timothy Hall, The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell, Darwin Bombed by Jack Mulholland)

The Adelaide River Stakes

In what later becomes known as the 'Adelaide River Stakes' people fled Darwin by any means possible, not stopping until they reached Adelaide River 115kms south. Less than a quarter of the civilian population remained in the town. What followed was widespread looting and senseless destruction of deserted houses. (Source: Australia's Pearl Harbor by Douglas Lockwood, Darwin 1942 by Timothy Hall, The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell, Darwin Bombed by Jack Mulholland)

Bombing of Kalumburu Aboriginal Mission

On 27th of September 1943, 25 Japanese aircraft approaching from the direction of Pago attacked the Kalumburu Aboriginal Mission area in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, dropping some 70 bombs. Eighty percent of the Mission buildings were destroyed and five Aboriginal people were killed. (Source: Australia's War website)

DIG DEEPER

Kalumburu War Diary by Eugene Perez

Bombing of the ship in Broome Harbour

When Broome came under Japanese attack on March 3rd 1942, the town was completely undefended and the only military personnel there were a few elderly home guard men. Total casualties were officially given as about seventy dead, but it was impossible to know if this was accurate, it could have been twice this number.  Many victims were Dutch women and children evacuees on their way south from Timor and Java. (Source: The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell, Australia's War website)

Comparisons to Pearl Harbor

Darwin was attacked by the same force that had attacked Pearl Harbor several months earlier. Following the first Japanese raid, Darwin and its surrounding area was bombed 62 more times during World War II. It was estimated that, in total, 683 bombs were dropped on Darwin, more than double the number dropped on Pearl Harbor. (Source: Australia's Pearl Harbor by Douglas Lockwood, Darwin 1942 by Timothy Hall, The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell, Darwin Bombed by Jack Mulholland)

American soldiers in Darwin in WWII

Early in 1941 America and Australia exchanged their first naval attaches. The US Navy also sent an official observer, Commander Marshall Collins, to Darwin. Collins began quietly to gather information for the US Navy. On the 10th September 1941 the first US planes landed in Darwin. They were using Darwin as an air route to the Philippines. Another seventeen bombers of the 19th Bombardment Group passed through during the next few weeks. On December 22nd 1941 the US Army Chief of Staff, General George C Marshall specified that Darwin was to be an American army and navy base. The USS Peary reached Darwin on January 3rd. On January 5th 1942 the Holbrook arrived carrying about 2000 US troops (The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell)

Indigenous soldiers in Australia in WWII

Anthropologist Donald Thompson proposed the formation of The Northern Territory Aboriginal Reconnaissance Unit. In February 1942, he recruited fifty outstanding warriors from Arnhem Land. The purpose of this Unit was to act as a reconnaissance unit sending back information on enemy movements, to defend the coast in the event of a landing and to instruct white soldiers in bush skills. (Source: Donald Thomson: the man and scholar by Bruce Rigsby)

 


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