World War 2
Australia in WW2

Was Australia bombed in World War 2?

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12/08/2012

Most definitely.

Darwin, capital city of the Northern Territory, was first bombed on 19 February 1942. The 20 minute attack concentrated on the Darwin RAAF Airfield. At least 243 civilians and military personnel were killed, not to mention the hundreds of Indigenous Australians, the official figure for which will never be known. Darwin's naval base was essentially abandoned following the attack. Darwin went on to be bombed about 60 times up until November 1943.

These initial attacks were the first of about 100 Japanese air raids against Australia during 1942-43. Other attacks included:

  • Broome, on the far northwestern coast of Australia, on 3 March 1942. Over 100 killed, mostly Dutch refugees who had been evacuated to Broome following the Japanese invasion of the Netherlands East Indies. 24 aircraft were also destroyed, including 16 flying boats.
  • Wyndham was bombed at the same time.
  • Broome again came under attack on 20 March, as did Derby.
  • Horn Island was bombed several times, unopposed, between 14 March and August.
  • Townsville in north Queensland experienced a series of attacks on the nights of 25-26, 27-28 and 28-29 July, 1942.
  • Eight bombs were dropped on farmland behind a house near Mossman in north Queensland on 31 July 1942. A small child was injured from flying shrapnel. The pilot thought he was bombing Cairns.
  • Sydney was another target. On 31 May 1942, three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour. One of them hit the naval depot ship HMAS Kuttabul, serving as an accommodation vessel. Nineteen Australian and two British sailors on the Kuttabul died, the only Allied deaths resulting from the attack. Ten days later, the mother ship returned and tried to hit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but failed miserably.