Japanese soldiers land on Mission Island.


Evidence of Japanese reconnaissance in Australia

In 1985 a RAAF historian pieced together Japanese and Australian sources to show that a party lead by a Japanese Intelligence officer named Lieutenant Suzuhiko Mizumo, had sailed a vessel from Timor to the Kimberley coast in January 1944, landed in York Sound 560 km south west of Darwin and spent two days there before returning to Timor. Mizumo has since revealed that the purpose of this voyage was to assess the strength of Australian north-western defense and the feasibility of diversionary landings in that area. This remains the sole example in World War II of a proven landing by an armed enemy on the Australian continent. (Source: The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell)

The Kentish Affair

Reverend Kentish became the first prisoner-of-war of the Japanese taken in Australian waters. Kentish embarked a small supply vessel in January 1943 at Milingimbi mission near Goulburn Island, with five Aborigines, for a voyage to nearby Yirrkala mission at the north-eastern tip of Arnhem Land. Near Lower Wessell Island, a Japanese float-plane dived out of the sun without warning. The pilot shut off the engine before beginning the dive. The aircraft was neither heard nor seen until it dropped a bomb, which went through an empty hatch and blew the bottom out of the supply ship. Twenty men, including Kentish and the Aborigines found themselves swimming in shark-infested waters six miles from land. The float-plane returned and dropped another bomb in their midst, killing a number of the men. Kentish and several others were far away enough from the explosion to escape with a severe shaking. Kentish was the only survivor of the blast, taken prisoner by the Japanese and taken to Dobo in the Aroe Islands. He was beheaded within a fortnight. (Source: The Shadow's Edge: Australia's Northern War by Alan Powell)

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