The Bombing of Darwin in 1942

The bombing of Darwin by the Japanese in World War 11 began in February 1942 with aircraft from four Japanese aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu.

A National Day of Observance, known as the "Bombing of Darwin Day" is held each year on 19 February to remember those who fell during the attack.

The day has also been remembered during a visit by US President Obama and by  families of Japanese service men who died here during the conflict..

Ships burning in Darwin HarbourShips burning in Darwin Harbour

The first raid by 188 aircraft caused massive damage to the town and the sinking of 8 of the 45 ships in the harbour at the time.

Later the same day 54 land based bombers destroyed 20 military aircraft and inflicted further damage on the town.

While only 4 Japanese planes were shot down, 251 people were killed and around 350- 400 were wounded.



Bombing Memerial70th Anniversary Mural at Stokes Hill Wharf Remembering the bombing of Darwin

Although this was the heaviest attack, Japanese planes continued to attack the north of Australia until November 1943 with more raids on Darwin, Katherine, Adelaide River, Batchelor Airfield, Broome, Townsville and other smaller bases and towns.

The few planes available to defend Darwin were still on the ground and were destroyed easily.

Bombing damage at Parap AirfieldBombing damage at Parap Airfield


Warnings from an Australian Coastwatcher on Melville Island and a Catholic Priest on Bathurst Island were thought to be mistaken sightings of a flight of US P-40E Kittyhawk fighters and ignored.



War bunker Casuarina BeachWartime defence bunkers can be found along Nightcliff and Casuarina Beaches.

This crumbling gun emplacement at Casuarina Beach is one of the many traces of wartime activities still to be found around Darwin.

Other wartime sites include;

Post Office Workers MemorialPost Office Workers Memorial

A memorial at Adelaide River Civil Cemetery to nine of the Post Office Staff killed in the bombing is located next to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Street names in the suburb of Alawa and Moil also remember those killed during the war.

USS Peary MemorialUSS Peary Memorial

The destroyer USS Peary was one of the ships sunk on the first bombing raid. Today a salvaged gun from the ship stands as a silent memorial, pointing towards the position where she was found after the war.

More on this Darwin bombing memorial here.

USS PearyUSS Peary

Damage from the original bombing is still visible at the hangar in Parap located behind Ross Smith Ave, which was the original Darwin Civil Airport. Now used as a museum and workshop by the Motor Vehicle Enthusiasts Club, the hangar is also an important part of the history of QANTAS Australia.

Sachiko Hirayama is is a Japanese lady who has been living in Darwin for several years and recently returned to Japan where she featured in a news item about the bombing of Darwin.  See the video below with English subtexts.


When the video plays, click settings to see the English subtitles



Message from Darwin



Doctors GullyDoctors Gully was a wartime Catalina Base

Looking across Doctors Gully towards the present day Naval Base is a much more peaceful scene today.

Darwin remains the base for surveillance of Australia's northern coastline.


Return from Bombing of Darwin to Enjoy Darwin.











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