Bombing of Darwin

On 19 February 1942, shortly before 10am and then noon on a Thursday, Darwin was bombed by two waves of attack by Japanese aircraft, from which many Allies and civilian lives (going about their morning business) were lost.

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 (early June).

  • Two months earlier, on 7 December 1941, Pearl harbour was bombed 457 times by 273 Japanese bombers.

In the air raids, around 240 lives were lost – of them, around 40 were civilians in the town or on the wharf – with up to 400 wounded (with the Japanese only losing two). The Allies lost 30 aircraft (to Japan 4) and eleven vessels (with 28 either grounded or damaged).

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.

Commemorate the anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin by:

  • if you’re in the Darwin area, attending a commemoration service or visiting memorials of the occasion
  • if you’re in the Canberra area, visiting the Australian War Memorial’s display on the Darwin Air Raids (and WWII more generally )
  • if you’re in the Sydney area, visiting the memorial plaque at Bankstown
  • watching these clips on the raids and their effects
  • reading further about the context of the bombing and impacts on Australia
  • recalling some of the other key WWII battles and events that Australia was involved in – for example, Tobruk, Crete, Coral Sea, Kokoda Track, Cowra break-out, victory day (Pacific) and the war’s official end
  • taking 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
  • having a meal and/or a drink down at your local Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL Club) and paying respects to our men and women who have served our country and are doing so now
  • following the Royal Australian Army, Air Force and/or Navy on Facebook to show your support for our own land, air and sea defences, and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, veterans, fellow patriotic Aussies and those prepared to respect, maintain and defend our exceptional way of life.

More Information

These air raids were the first, and largest, of around 100 against Australia’s north by the Japanese spanning 1942 to 1943. They rocked our then sense of security – exposing our vulnerability, particularly to our north.

As a result, defence – particularly of our own nation (land, shores and waters) – became a far greater priority and matter of national pride. This generally remains the case today except when the Left are able to exploit bouts of complacency and defund our defence forces (to fund extra public servants, heavily-unionised activity and/or welfare), undermine our sovereignty and prise open our borders.