Today, the 19th of February, is the 78th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.
This was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft , in two separate raids, attacked the town, the ships in Darwin Harbour, and the town’s two airfields. This was an attempt to prevent the allies using them as bases to contest military developments close to Asia.
The Japanese inflicted heavy losses upon Allied forces at little cost to themselves. The urban areas of Darwin also suffered some damage from the raids and there were a number of civilian casualties. More than half of Darwin’s civilian population left the area permanently, before or immediately after the attack.
Beautiful Mindil Beach was the site of mass graves, as it was following the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
A memorial ceremony has been held every year since early on in the 21st Century. At the Cenotaph in Darwin, at 9:58 am, a World War II Air Raid Siren will sound to mark the precise time of the first attack.
I’ve read three novels by Australian authors this year (Territory by Judy Nunn and The Last Mile Home by Di Morrissey), which have featured the Bombing of Darwin. It appears that the Government censored information about losses at the time so as not to frighten and panic Australian citizens.
Belinda Murrell’s The Forgotten Pearl is Historical YA Fiction which I highly recommend giving insights into this period, and includes the Fall of Singapore and the mini submarines in Sydney Harbour. If you’ve got a teenager battling with history classes at High School this sure as hell beats dates written in chalk on a blackboard.
*In October 2015, the Chinese-owned Landbridge Group won the bid for a leaseof Port Darwin. The Northern Territory Government granted the company a 99-year lease for A$506 million.