February 19

Massive raid on Darwin remembered

"Today the bombing of Darwin is remembered as the first time the Australian mainland was under attack," northern Territory Library assistant director Marilyn Hawthorne told Ben Langford of the Northern Territory News.  A new exhibition, Darwin Harbour Under Fire, is now on display at the Northern Territory Library.

During the attacks 66 years ago by 188 Japanese aircraft, from the same unit which attacked Pearl Harbour, eight Australian American and British ships were sunk, 160 people perished in the harbour and 39 civilians were killed on the wharf. Twenty three USAAF, US Navy and RAAF aircraft were destroyed. Darwin was to be attacked by the Japanese another 58 times. There were about 100 air raids on Australia , but this was the most devastating. More bombs were dropped in this attack than on Pearl Harbor. 

When the full picture became known of the damage to Darwin, the government, on military advice censored this. It came not long after the fall of Singapore which had seriously damaged morale in Australia.

"The exhibition will feature photographs and memorabilia from personal collections and the library's collections, in addition to two paintings from the Australian War Museum by renowned artist Roy Hodgkinson," Ms. Hawthorne said.

"At the time, the civilian population in other parts of Australia were shielded from the tragic details of the attack through wartime censorship.



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