Bombing of Darwin

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by GPRegt, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. GPRegt

    GPRegt Senior Member

    I have to confess ignorance of the Japanese bombing of Darwin. It was seeing Japanese aircraft and explosions on the poster for the new movie Australia which got me researching it. From a recent survey, it would also appear that a significant number of Australians don't know of the strategic importance of Darwin and how heavily it was attacked.

    Steve W.
     
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Today on BBC TV World Service, they showed some scenes of the new film 'Australia'
    and looks to be a good film to see when it hits the High Street.
    The Japanese Air Attack looked a little like pearl Harbor computer animation, but well done.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It was on the news tonight.

    Darwin is and was one of the main Austrailian Naval base during WW2 and was used a lot by the Royal Navy as was Freemantle in Western Austrailia.

    The northern most tip of Austrailia is only around 200km from Papua New Guinea which was occupied by the Japanese during WW2.

    Infact I believe Nothern Austrailia was the next stop and at one point there was serious worries within Austrailia about deploying ANZAC's overseas to help the British Army in Africa or Italy as the Austrailian government thought an invasion was iminent.
     
  4. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    The 243 victims of the 19th Feb 1942 raid are buried in a special, cemetery at Adelaide River, about 125 kms south of Darwin.

    It includes the entire family of the local postmaster when the PO took a direct hit.

    It was the first of 64 raids on northern Australia ranging from Broome in the west to Townsville in the east. Most were concentrated on Darwin and the surrounding military installations.

    John.
     
  5. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    Drew,

    "Infact I believe Nothern Austrailia was the next stop and at one point there was serious worries within Austrailia about deploying ANZAC's overseas to help the British Army in Africa or Italy as the Austrailian government thought an invasion was iminent."



    At that time Australia had 3 Divisions of the 2nd AIF in the Middle East.

    Prime Minister John Curtin insisted on all being returned immediately but with the promise of an extra US Army division the 9th was allowed to remain and they took a major part in the Battle of El Alamein.

    The 6th and 7th Division were in UNESCORTED convoy on the Indian Ocean with Churchill and Curtin arguing about their destination. Churchill even had the GALL to signal a change of course to Burma which Curtin countermanded, and they arrived in PNG just in time to relieve the 39th Battalion on the Kokoda Track. The 39th had about 30 men still on their feet.

    The 9th Div arrived home in early 1943, and after jungle training went straight up to PNG.


    John.
     
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  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    John...Did the Americans in significant numbers use Northern Austrailia as a starting point to re take the Pacific ?
     
  7. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    Drew,

    "John...Did the Americans in significant numbers use Northern Austrailia as a starting point to re take the Pacific ?"



    They certainly did, in fact the first US troops to arrive in Australia, in about late January 1942, were from the 'Pensacola Convoy', originally headed to Manila, but diverted immediately after PH to Australia via Fiji. These troops, from the US Army 32nd Division, AMAZINGLY, were sent to the desert centre of Australia at Alice Springs, for training when all knew they were going to the jungles of PNG etc.

    Sanity eventually prevailed, and they went to far north Queensland to train in the jungles there. They eventually arrived in PNG in late 1942.

    My father in law was with the 7th Div, and he went to Queensland with 70,000 other Australians to an area called the Atherton Tableland.

    Apparently, at one stage in WW2 the area above the Tropic of Capricorn had 300,000 troops based throughout the place, and it was well into 1944 before MacArthur had more Americans than Australians under his command in the SWPA. His HQ was in Brisbane.


    John.
     
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  8. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    One of the major events of the bombing of Darwin was that a considerable number of US warships were destroyed in Darwin Harbour. This was partly because the Americans insisted in tying them together instead of distributing them around the harbour. They had the same policy wrt their planes. With the same result.

    The road between the Alice and Darwin was created expressly because of the heavy concentration of troops at the Top End.

    The residents of Darwin did not, as a group behave very well after the bombing. There was widespread looting and other criminal behaviour. Many of the perpetrators were police. It's mostly because of this that the bombing dropped out of history.

    It is also stated and I am very wary of this, that more bombs were dropped on Darwin than at Pearl Harbor.
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    One of the major events of the bombing of Darwin was that a considerable number of US warships were destroyed in Darwin Harbour. This was partly because the Americans insisted in tying them together instead of distributing them around the harbour. They had the same policy wrt their planes. With the same result.

    The road between the Alice and Darwin was created expressly because of the heavy concentration of troops at the Top End.

    The residents of Darwin did not, as a group behave very well after the bombing. There was widespread looting and other criminal behaviour. Many of the perpetrators were police. It's mostly because of this that the bombing dropped out of history.

    It is also stated and I am very wary of this, that more bombs were dropped on Darwin than at Pearl Harbor.

    Interesting.....But they did use Torpedoes at Pearl as well :D
     
  10. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    A few years ago After The Battle carried an article on the raids on Australian soil , the damage caused and the shooting down of several Japanese aircraft - pretty good from what I recall in that they carried locations and photos of the aircraft wreckage as well as photos of the raids and damage inflicted.
    (Would have to look the copies out to give any real detail, their website will provide magazine numbers and an outline of the articles.)

    They have also covered submarine attacks attacks on Sydney harbour and a mass breakout by Japanese POWs at the end of the war , many of whom took their own lives.

    I recall seeing a documentery on japanese attack on Australia which described how much of the Northern territories were evacuated - anything which might have sustained a japanese landing force was moved south - cattle , sheep all taken out of reach of the potential invader.
    Had they landed it wopuld have been to an empty landscape.
     
  11. ozjohn39

    ozjohn39 Senior Member

    JS,

    Yes, all the live-stock was moved south and some but certainly not all of the civilian population was too.

    An (unopposed) landing anywhere on the northern coast would have had 100,000 dead japanese over the ensuring 2000 kms of arid desert. The Queensland coast was protected by the Great Barrier Reef and the southern bit was mostly 300' vertical cliffs. The SE corner was FAR too exposed to supply by sea.


    John.
     
  12. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    The Brisbane Line was the idea of the Australian Govt. to abandon the top end of Australia in the event of a Japanese landing. It is now considered highly unlikely that the Japanese ever intended to do that.

    The attack on Sydney Harbour was made by midget subs and was one of many such attacks by these craft.
     
  13. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The 243 victims of the 19th Feb 1942 raid are buried in a special, cemetery at Adelaide River, about 125 kms south of Darwin.

    It includes the entire family of the local postmaster when the PO took a direct hit.

    John.

    Here is the cemetery and the memorial to the Post Office workers.

    Adelaide River Cemetery 3.JPG

    DSCF0798.JPG

    View attachment 14028
     
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  14. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    The Brisbane Line was the idea of the Australian Govt. to abandon the top end of Australia in the event of a Japanese landing. It is now considered highly unlikely that the Japanese ever intended to do that.

    The attack on Sydney Harbour was made by midget subs and was one of many such attacks by these craft.

    I think they had every intention (in some circles) to invade Australia however it seems that there are denials from the Japanese that this was so.

    The Japanese thought themselves invincible and had their eyes on Fiji, Samoa and Tuvalu as well which would have enabled them to cut the supply lines of the Americans to Australia.

    Milne Bay was the first defeat they suffered at the hands of a coordinated LandSeaAir defence after making a beachhead in August/September 1942. Their invasion force was virtually wiped out throughout the course of the Kokoda campaign (we didn't fair much better either) and Admiral King sent the Americans to Guadalcanal which was where the Americans dug in for the long haul.

    Here and only here in my opinion did the Japanese throw away any ideas of invading Australia as they were on the back foot for the rest of the war.

    Milne Bay showed they could be defeated - Guadalcanal hammered the nail into the coffin. There were still many dangers ahead however after February 1943 when Guadalcanal was considered secure, the industrial might of America that Yamamoto voiced, came into play and the rest is history.
     
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  15. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Not being too well up on the far East , it is only compartively recently that I realised that Guadalcanal was the real test between the Americans and the Japanese in terms of will and resolve and for the Japanese it was a reality check - the propaganda myth / racial sterotype they had created was shattered.
    Spinge / Herakles thank you for the views on Australias position in terms of Japanese expansion - I for one welcome anything on this for me its a bad day if you can't pick up some new info. Cheers :)
     
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  16. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Drew,


    The 6th and 7th Division were in UNESCORTED convoy on the Indian Ocean with Churchill and Curtin arguing about their destination. Churchill even had the GALL to signal a change of course to Burma which Curtin countermanded, and they arrived in PNG just in time to relieve the 39th Battalion on the Kokoda Track. The 39th had about 30 men still on their feet.
    John.

    Battalions were sent to Darwin and strategically placed at points along the way to Adelaide River which was the largest Army base in the SW Pacific.

    My fathers battalion (2/8th) of the 6th Division were sent to Darwin and were placed half way between there and Adelaide River. Roadside landing strips were placed at points along the way also. The Airstrips were Pell, Coomalie, Batchelor, Hughes, Strauss and Sattler. My father was not there of course as he was still recuperating in Melbourne after being critically injured on the initial attack on Tobruk in January 1941.

    DSCF0844.JPG

    DSCF0867.JPG
     
  17. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Thought you might like this from Camerons regimental History, mentions Air attacks around Darwin area.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    I can't agree re the Japs intending to attack Australia. It was never their intention. But they had to clear the area of Allied forces before attacking Timor. In this they succeeded. The Allied navies retreated to Brisbane and Fremantle.

    Anyone who knows Australia would understand that any land attack from the north is nigh on impossible. There's over 2000km of desert just for starters. And it would require a huge invasion force.

    It should be appreciated that the attack on Darwin wasn't a one-off. Altogether it was bombed 59 times and other parts of the Territory and western Australia were too. The attack on Broome was particularly nasty.

    But invade - never. The Japs were content with the rich countries to the north.
     
  19. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    They were after oil and rubber.
    59 raids - when you look at the map - they were on the doorstep in terms of flying time - no distance away.
     
  20. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    They were after oil and rubber.

    Exactly. And there was no oil or rubber in Australia.
     

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