World War II Wiki


Please log in!
Logging in will provide you with an ad-free website.
It will also give you access to the Monobook skin, which is much easier to use and navigate.


World War II Wiki
World War II Wiki

The Bombing of Darwin was an air raid that was carried out by Imperial Japan on the Australian port of Darwin on February 19, 1942. Darwin had held strategic importance to Japanese operations in the region because it was a leading shipping port and aircraft base that kept Allied troops in supply throughout the whole region.

Therefore, it was imperative that the Japanese disable Darwin's ability to attack at their forces long enough so that Australia would be cut off from supply.[1] After the raid, casualties resulted in several hundred Australians killed to seven Japanese planes downed.

Planning and Preparation[]

To prepare against any attacks, the town of Darwin had only a couple of scattered AA guns and several fighter aircraft on hand as well as the ships that were in harbor. Though on February 19, the Japanese had at their disposal nearly 250 attack aircraft launched from nearby aircraft carriers and airfields. The attacks were not meant for an invasion of Australia, although it was a widespread belief.[2] The Japenese were actually preparing to invade Timor, and anticipated that bombing Darwin would hinder the Allies from launching a counter-offensive, and at the same time damage Australian morale.

The Battle[]

On February 19, 1942, mainland Australia came under attack for the first time, when Japanese forces mounted two air raids on the city of Darwin. The two attacks, which were planned and led by the commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour ten weeks earlier, involved fifty-four land-based bombers and approximately 188 attack aircraft which were launched from four Japanese aircraft-carriers in the Timor Sea. 

In the first attack, around 10.00 am, heavy bombers pattern-bombed the harbour and the town, dive bombers escorted by Zero fighters then attacked shipping in the harbour, the military and civil aerodromes, and the hospital at Berrimah. The attack ceased after about forty minutes. 
Darwin Bombing Aftermath

Darwin, following the attack

The second attack, which began an hour later, involved high altitude bombing of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Parap which lasted for between twenty to twenty-five minutes. The two raids killed at least 243 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded. Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed. With Singapore already having fallen to the Japanese days earlier, and concerned of the effect on the bombing, the Australian government announced that only seventeen people had been killed during the raid.In the initial attacks, the half civilian populance fled to the Adelaide River along with RAAF servicemen, believing an invasion was imminent. Three days later, many Australian citizens began looting abandoned buildings.