Bombing of Darwin

February 02, 2018

On 19 February 1942, shortly before 10am, Darwin was bombed by two waves of attack by Japanese aircraft, from which 236 people were killed. 

Despite Darwin's strategic importance to the defence of Australia, the town of around 6,000 before the war was not easily or well defended at the time. 

In the two raids, the Japanese dropped a total of 681 bombs by 205 bombers from four aircraft carriers (ones that were eventually sunk in the Battle of Midway later that year).  [Two months earlier, on 7 December 1941, Pearl harbour was bombed 457 times by 273 Japanese bombers.] 

The first raid focused on the naval ships in Darwin harbour with the second, larger and from higher altitude, targeting the airfields. The bombing was to weaken any Allies’ resistance to the Japanese invasion of Timor and Java.

You can commemorate this significant occasion by:

  • if you’re in the Darwin area, attend a commemoration service or visit memorials of the occasion
  • follow the Royal Australian Air Force on Facebook to show your support for our air defences
  • take a moment to look to the skies and reflect on the attack on Darwin, the lives lost and our service men and women who defend our borders from such attacks ever happening again

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