On this day Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin with devastating force. Wind gusts were recorded at up to 240km/hr before recording equipment broke. Tracy destroyed 70% of buildings in Darwin including 80% of its houses. 71 people were killed. Over the following 4 days over 35,000 people were evacuated from Darwin the majority by air.
On this day 30th June 1943 27 Japenese G4M "Betty" bombers along with their Zero escorts attacked the airfiled at Fenton south of Darwin. This was to be the first of several raids on this field. The runway was bombed, 3 B-24 Liberator bombers were destroyed and several others damaged. No one was killed, but this raid encouraged the rapid building of more ( and deeper) slit trenches.
On this morning and the subsequent morning (23rd January 1943) 76 squadron based at Strauss Airfield south of Darwin and equipped with Kittyhawks RAAF -was attacked by Japanese aircraft. No casulaties or damage to aircraft were reported. 76 squadron were the 2nd RAAF squardron to be euipped with (P40E) Kittyhawks and had served in Milne Bay New Guinea up until late September 1942 before being transferred to Darwin.
On the 24 October 1942 the Japanese bombed Batchelor at approximately 0430 hours, dropping bombs across the administrative buildings at OB Batchelor Headquarters. Fortunately no personnel were injured and no squadron aircraft were damaged. Chas Nottle recalled: "In all the time I was at Batchelor there was only one occasion we had to go for our slit trenches. I remember it was a clear moonlit night - the planes were clearly visible and we could even (so we reckoned) hear the bomb releases click as they let their bombs go."
On the 27th September 1942 the Japanese bombed Darwin and Bynoe Harbour. 04:56am Bynoe Harbour Darwin (Raid No. 38) and 05:44am Darwin town area (Frances Bay) Darwin (Raid No. 39).
On this day 23rd August 1942, the Japanese bombed Hughes airfield resulting in the loss of one Wirraway and one Brewster Buffalo. Ammuniiton and fuel dumps were also hit.
On this day 16th June 1942 at 12:0pm (midday) there was another bombing raid on Darwin. The raid included 27 B4M (Betty) bombers and 27 zero fighters accompanying them. In the ensuing fight 5 P40 kittyhawks were shot down or badly damaged and then wrecked in attempted landings, while two zeros and two bombers were shot down. This again demonstrating that the Japanese at this stage of the war were far from a spent force and that the allies were yet to establish air superiority over Darwin.
On this day Broome was attacked for the first time. This was to be the 2nd most devastating raid on the Australian mainland during the war. Eighty six people were killed and 22 aircraft destroyed when nine Japanese Zeros and a Babs observation plane swooped in to strafe the town, airfield and flying boat port. Those killed inlcluded more than 30 injured being ferried aboard a B24 Libertaor bomber that was shot down, Dutch civilian refugees escaping the Netherlands East Indies and at least nine children - with the youngest being only one year old. No bombs were dropped during the raid - all the damage being done by the attackers machine guns and cannons. One Japanese aircraft was shot down during the raid and another crashed on its way home.
There were to be three more raids on the town during the war, the last being in August 1943.
On this day Darwin was BOMBED for the first time in World War 2.
A further 63 raids were to follow over the next 21 months.
188 Japanese aircraft were launched from 4 aircraft carriers to the north west of Darwin arriving with total surprise just before 10am. The first raid lasted around 28 - 30 minutes. A follow up raid by 54 land based high level bombers arrived around 2 hours later and attacked the airfields. These two raids were to be the most devastating attacks on Australia during the war.
Prime Minister John Curtin in a speech that night said "A severe blow has been struck in this first battle on Australian soil. It will be a source of pride to the public to know that the armed forces and civilians conducted themselves with gallantry .......... we must face with fortitude the first onslaught and remember that whatever the future holds in store for us we are Australians and will fight grimly and victoriously ..... Darwin has been bombed but it has not been conquered."
On this day Singapore fell to to The Japanese after only 1 week of fighting. 130,000 British, Indian and Australian troops surrendered in one of the most stinging defeats of World War 2.
On this day the war in the Pacific commenced when 353 Japanese aircraft launched from 6 aircraft carriers some 350km from Hawaii.
The attack resulted in the sinking of six American ships (three of which were subsequently recovered and returned to service), the destruction of 188 aircraft and the loss of approximately 2400 lives. Luckily the six aircraft carriers of the American Pacific Fleet were not in port at the time and their use in the subsequent battles of the Coral Sea in May 1942 and Midway in June 1942, resulted in subsequent American Naval superiority for the remainder of the war. Pearl Harbour brought America into the war for the first time, and with the declarations of war on the US by Germany and Italy 4 days later the US suddenly found itself fighting a war in two theatres.
On this day Darwin was devastated by a cyclone - the first of 3 major cyclones to hit Darwin over the next 120 years. The pearling fleet was sunk, houses destroyed and the roof blew off the Vic Hotel in Smith St.