On this day 76 years ago, World War II was brought to Australian shores for the first time.
More than 240 Japanese aircraft bombed Darwin in two separate attacks, killing more than 240 people on February 19, 1942.
Seventy-six years later, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael McCormack says Australians should not only pause to remember those who died during the attack but also those who defended the city.
“Australia should remember with pride the many people involved in Darwin’s defence on this day 76 years ago,” Mr McCormack said in a statement on Monday.
“The bombing of Darwin was believed by many at the time to be the prelude to a Japanese invasion. In reality, it was aimed at eliminating the threat of an allied counter-attack against the Japanese invasion of Timor which took place the following day.”
The first attack on Darwin happened just before 10am on February 19.
The targets were the harbour and town, the Royal Australian Air Force, civil aerodromes and the army hospital, Mr McCormack said.
“Ten US Kittyhawk fighters were the only aircraft available to defend Darwin and all but one were shot down before they could engage the attackers,” he said.
“A second wave of Japanese bombers arrived just before noon and bombed the RAAF base.”
Katherine, Broome, Townsville, Wyndham and Cairns were also bombed.
The Japanese bombed Darwin 64 times during the course of the war. The raids on February 19, 1942, were the most destructive.
The final raid against Darwin took place on November 12, 1943.
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