On this day in 1942, Darwin, a city in Australia’s Northern Territory was bombed in two air raids by the Imperial Forces of Japan. Just over two months after the attacks on Pearl Harbour.February 19thre probably will not find it imprinted anywhere on Australian made calendars. What could account for this is that the Government of the day downplayed the event through ‘censored and limited coverage, in order to protect public morale in the southern states of Australia’[Source: Australia.gov.au]. It is probable that this accounts for the limited awareness of the severity of the air raids in the contemporary Australian psyche.
We marked it on our calendar but even I almost missed marking the day.As a nation we do Anzac Day [April 25th] well, we remember the cost of war, remember those left, those who sacrificed and are also get our fair share of confrontation with the indifference of generations who forget it.
The 19th of February needs to be marked as national day of remembrance for Australians. Thankfully efforts are being made by politicians to see that this happens..
According to the archives regarding the events in Darwin, 1942:
‘The two raids killed at least 242-3 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded (including members of the U.S military personal). Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed…the intention was not invasion, but to disrupt the Allies using Darwin as a base for a counter-attack against the invasion of Timor’ [Source: naa.gov.au]
The bombing of Darwin stands alone as the first big attack against the Australian mainland by a foreign nation.
‘In all, there were 64 air raids on Darwin. The final occurring on the 12 November 1943’ [Source: Australia.gov.au]
The Darwin bombing is not only about remembering how close the War in the Pacific came to Australian shores. It is also a reminder of the rough road to reconciliation present in the relationship between the Australia and Japan after the war had ended.
This is exemplified in an excellent 2010 production from the ABC program 7:30 N.T. The brief documentary outlines the event and the aftermath. The dangers in Darwin harbour, when the time had come to remove the hazardous wrecks would also have been crocodiles.
The highlight from this story is the Japanese salvage team. They used metal from the wrecks to forge crosses “as a sign of peace and reconciliation”.
For my home-school friends I have attached a free printable which contains the Geographical outline of Australia. (This one is homemade). We gave it a spin today and our Year Four home-schooler loved filling in the blanks, adding a ton of colour-shading, borders, capital cities and other key locations.