At nearly 10 o'clock on Thursday, the 19th of February, 1942, sailors on more than 40 ships in Darwin Harbour, as well as soldiers and civilians in the town, sighted masses of aircraft flying towards them. Many observers thought they were Allied machines, and indeed 10 American Kittyhawks were in the air returning to the Darwin airfield at the time.
This momentary misconception was quickly dispelled when the oncoming aircraft began their attack. There were 188 Japanese fighters and bombers in all, and they had been launched from four aircraft carriers a few hours before. Their crews were experienced warriors who had destroyed Pearl Harbor two and an half months earlier. Now, in their Admiral's words, they're were the "sledgehammer,to crack an egg", and their set about their work in deadly earnest.
Nine ships were sunk, the defending Kittyhawks were destroyed with one exception, 251 people were killed, and the town of Darwin devastated. An hour later 54 Japanese bombers arrived and struck the airfields. Invasion seemed imminent. This was the begiining of 64 raids made on the Northern Territory in World War II.
This comprehensive guide to the war in Northern Australia features:
- the background to that initial battle
- accounts of the fight in the air, at sea and on land
- an explanation of the consequences and the aftermath to those first raids
- further developments as the war continued in the north
- a guide to today's Sites of Significance
- a Casualty Roll
- a list of Army Units present in the Northern Territory throughout the war
- a list of the air units deployed from 1941-45
- a list of the 64 air raids
- an extensive list of photographs and maps, many never published previously
First published in 1999, this third edition contains an authoritative chapter analysing the rumours that many more people died than are given in most accounts.
Foreword and Acknowledgements
The Attacks in Brief
Build up to a Battle
The Battle in the Air
The Battle at Sea
The Battle on Land
Consequences: the Aftermath
Sites of Significance: What Remains Today?
Myths Concerning the Number of Deaths Inflicted in the First Two Raids
Appendix 1. Casualty Roll, by Service
Appendix 2. List of Army Units Present in the Northern Territory November 1941 to June 1945
Appendix 3. Major Operational Squadrons - North Western Area 1941-45 and List of Darwin Air Raids
List of Works Consulted