Monday, February 21, 2011

The Bombing of Darwin

I live in Darwin. Australia's Northern most city. On the 19th of Feb at 9.58am, 1942 bombs started raining down out of the sky from Japanese aircraft. It was the same Japanese force that attacked Pearl Harbour. They headed directly to Darwin after Pearl Harbour. When the planes where first sighted some initally thought.....check it out the yanks have arrived in force to help us. WRONG!
Having just exeperienced a Cyclone here last week a big issue was confusing and mixed messages from the Authorities. However we knew it was about to arrive. Darwin in 1942 while transforming quickly into a miltary frontier had no clue about what was about to be unleashed. The panic at every level after the first bombing of Darwin was off the dial. Many Australians are unaware that the mainland of Australia was attacked with a ferocity never seen before (nor since) at all. The Japanese sumbarine raid in Sydney Harbour is well known but the fact Darwin was bombed a further 62 times is not widely known.
The first bomb raid killed 243 people and injured hundreds more. Among them more than 90 American soldiers were killed in the Bombing, including two thirds of the crew on the USS Peary, which had dropped anchor in Darwin Harbour. The Government of the day kept the news from Australia for a few days (as they didn't want to cause widespread panic). However as Darwin refugees started getting further south the news could not be kept secret for long.
Some buildings in Darwin where purposely not bombed as the Japanese wanted to keep these for specific purposes such as a headquarters.
Darwin still has many places to visit that have reminders of WWII. So if you ever stop by dig a little deeper beyond the Jumping Crocs and the bars on Mitchell Street and have a look around for them. You can see where the Neptuna rolled over and glowed red for a while before the ammo inside exploded. You can see where the Peary sunk beneath the water as a crewman stood on the bow blasting away with a 50cal until he had to jump. Even a building now used as a bank has a section of wall framed that shows chipping from bomb shrapnel as well. 


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