Darren Chester, Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel minister
AS a nation we should never forget the bombing of Darwin, which occurred 78 years ago on 19 February – an attack that will forever be etched in our history – and the beginning of the bombing campaign targeted at towns in northern Australian.
While our nation had been involved in the Second World War since 1939, the bombing of Darwin came not long after the Japanese entered the war and was the first time the Australian mainland came under attack.
Darwin sustained 64 air raids, the first two coming on February 19, 1942 and the final raids taking place in November 1943.
The number of bombs dropped on Darwin are believed to have surpassed those dropped on Pearl Harbor, showcasing the military significance of Darwin in the war against the Japanese in the Pacific.
The first raid saw nearly 200 Japanese planes attack the Darwin harbour which was full of ships. Along with the loss of human life, three Allied naval ships and five merchant ships were sunk and many others were damaged.
The second raid came not long after with the town’s military airfield attacked by 54 Japanese bombers. Six Royal Australian Air Force personnel were among those killed.
It was a tragic day with more than 250 killed, including Australian and Allied forces, merchant seaman, wharf labourers and local civilians.
Bombing of Darwin Day is an opportunity for us all to pause and reflect on the impact of these attacks and the lives lost.
This year also marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War and is an occasion to remember the sacrifice of the some 39,000 service men and women who died fighting to protect Australia and its allies and the almost one million men and women who fought in this terrible conflict which spanned more than half a decade.
Lest we forget.
Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel minister