Today Australians paused to remember those who lost their lives, and those who served in the defence of Darwin during the Second World War.
Speaking at the official commemorative service in Darwin, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Matt Keogh said the bombing was the first time during the Second World War that the Australian mainland came under attack.
“On 19 February 1942, some 240 Japanese aircraft bombed Darwin in two separate raids, more than 250 people lost their lives including members of all three services, Allied personnel, merchant mariners and civilians,” Minister Keogh said.
“I am honoured to be in Darwin to attend the Bombing of Darwin Day commemorations and to stand with the local community as they honour those who fought to defend their home in 1942.
“This anniversary is an important opportunity to honour those who served, their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families.”
By 1942, the Japanese forces were advancing swiftly through Southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific. In just two months they captured Thailand and Malaya and had invaded the Netherlands East Indies (present day Indonesia) and Papua and New Guinea.
By mid-February the Allied ‘fortress’ of Singapore had surrendered, the Australian mainland was under attack and Timor had fallen.
“The war had come to Australia, and for those here in Darwin at that time, they experienced firsthand the fear, devastation and loss that war brings. While 81 years may have passed, we will never forget the sacrifices of our service men, women and civilians who defended our country in the Second World War,” Minister Keogh said.
Just two weeks after the initial raids on Darwin, Japanese aircraft attacked Broome with dozens killed or wounded and more than 20 Allied aircraft destroyed.
“These were the first in a series of raids across northern Australia throughout 1942 and 1943, with some 97 attacks taking place on locations from Wyndham, Port Hedland and Derby in Western Australia; to Darwin and Katherine in the Northern Territory; Townsville and Mossman in Queensland, and Horn Island in the Torres Strait.”
“On Bombing of Darwin Day I encourage all Australians to remember and honour those who died during these raids on northern Australia and the bravery shown in the defence of our country during the Second World War,” the Minister said.
Learn more about the attacks on Australia in 1942 and the courage shown by service personnel and civilians by visiting the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Anzac Portal.