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19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:03 am
by NAV20
Having lived about half my life in England, and the other half in Australia, I'm probably quite 'well-qualified' to see both sides of this question.   And I know from (equally elderly  ) friends how shaken they were by the Japanese bombing of Darwin on this day in 1942.

From the beginning, Australia had poured virtually all its resources into helping Britain to fight the Nazis and Fascists in Europe. Most of their airmen were attached to the RAF fighting the Luftwaffe, most of its seamen were fighting the German and Italian navies in the Mediterranean, and most of their soldiers were fighting Rommel in North Africa. The only people 'left at home' were half-trained 'territorials.' And suddenly a whole new 'phase' of WW2 had opened up, Japan's formidable armed forces were right on their metaphorical 'doorstep,' while most of Australia's armed forces, and any Allied reinforcements, were literally thousands of miles away......

A neighbour of mine - a bit older than me - told me this afternoon that, even in Melbourne, 'the grown-ups' came close to panic for a while - feeling that the Japanese were going to walk in and capture the whole place, virtually 'un-opposed.'

Fortunately, of course, the Japanese were 'bluffing' a bit themselves. They'd failed to 'knock out' the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, and didn't have any of the resources they'd have needed to 'conquer' and hold Australia. But, for the 'grown-ups' - especially the guys fighting Germany and Italy literally on 'the other side of the world' - it must have been pretty worrying at the time....

[Edited 2014-02-18 23:17:20]

RE: 19th. February - 50 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:15 am
by Stealthz
Hey Nav,
Am I missing something?
To my knowledge the Japanese bombed Darwin on 19th Feb 1942.... 72 years ago!!

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:19 am
by NAV20
Thanks mate - had time to edit.......  

The subject IS basically 'old age,' I guess....  

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:24 am
by rwessel
Huh? Did you mean 72 years? The TV special would have been commemorating 70 years.

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:56 am
by AyostoLeon
A few days later, Broome in Western Australia was to suffer a similar attack. Broome had become a staging post for evacuees from Malaysia, Singapore (one of whom was Major General Gordon Bennett) and the Dutch East Indies.

On the 3rd of March the Japanese struck and during the space of about 20 minutes 25 Allied aircraft were destroyed, including a number of Dornier 24 and Catalina flying boats in Roebuck Bay. An American Liberator was shot down shortly after take off, while a Flying Fortress was also destroyed at the nearby airstrip. This attack was the second most serious air raid on Australia during WWII.

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:25 am
by RussianJet
Well, if we can just move on from the obvious initial mistake, it's a fascinating topic. I have to confess that I'd never realised what a seriously precarious situation Australia had been left in at that point, so thanks very much for the insight. It was interesting having a read afterwards.

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:42 am
by AyostoLeon
Quoting RussianJet (Reply 5):

The feeling of isolation, and the disputes with the Imperial Cabinet in London over bringing Australian service personnel back to defend Australia following the fall of Singapore, was the major impetus in shifting Australia into a closer alliance with the US.

Though with hindsight the real threat was exaggerated, it did not look that way at the time. Indeed, recognising the inability of the Commonwealth of Australia to defend the entire mainland in the event of a Japanese invasion, the Government drew up what was called the Brisbane Line. It marked the area that it was felt could realistically be defended given the available manpower and resources. It didn't mean the complete abandonment of the north and west, but it did appear that it was assumed any resistance could only be a delaying action and it was better to concentrate forces where they could defend the larger centres of population.

Despite the on paper writing off of Western Australia, all was not lost. The war did finally result in the Trans Australian Railway being completed - something that had been promised as an inducement for WA joining the Commonwealth back in 1901!

[Edited 2014-02-19 03:45:45]

RE: 19th. February - 72 Years Since Darwin Bombing.

Posted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:43 am
by melpax
Sydney Harbour was bombed by Japanese midget subs a few months after the attack on Darwin. They were aiming for the major warships berthed in Sydney at the time, but attacked a converted ferry instead, killing 21 sailors. Several homes in Sydney's eastern suburbs were bombed by the subs as well. This would have only re-inforced the panic mentality.

It was not unusual, even in Melbourne for people to have dug air raid shelters in their back yards, and trenches were dug in parks. there were preperations in place in Melbourne & Sydney for evacuation of children to rural areas - people had 'evacuation kits' pre-packed for their children in case this did happen. A lot of the private schools in the major cities did move to country areas, but this would have mainly been because their city premises would have been requsioned by the military for the duration, there were a lot of 'civilian' facilities that were requisioned during the war, even sporting facilities such as the MCG. The MCG was used as an American camp for a time, with GI's sleeping in the stands