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Darwin Bombing: 70 Years On...


siznaudin
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Wasn't sure which section of TAA to put this in, but shift it if you feel necessary, Glenn.

 

Coming up this weekend, Sunday the 19th will be 70 years since the first bombing raid took place - 243 killed.

 

Over the next 18 months there were another 63 raids, with around 40 more added to the toll.

 

Spare a moment's quiet contemplation this Sunday.

 

http://www.nretas.nt.gov.au/knowledge-and-history/northern-territory-library/online_resources/australias_northern_territory_wwii/dawin_bombing_collection

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Darwin

 

 

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Wasn't sure which section of TAA to put this in, but shift it if you feel necessary, Glenn.Coming up this weekend, Sunday the 19th will be 70 years since the first bombing raid took place - 243 killed.

 

Over the next 18 months there were another 63 raids, with around 40 more added to the toll.

 

Spare a moment's quiet contemplation this Sunday.

 

http://www.nretas.nt.gov.au/knowledge-and-history/northern-territory-library/online_resources/australias_northern_territory_wwii/dawin_bombing_collection

Thanks for the reminder, siz. The "unknown vessel" mounted on a trailer is bloody fascinating.

 

Obviously a submarine, it resembles none of the many Japanese midget sub designs I have seen.

 

I wonder what it was and what became of it?

 

 

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Thanks for the reminder, siz. The "unknown vessel" mounted on a trailer is bloody fascinating.Obviously a submarine, it resembles none of the many Japanese midget sub designs I have seen.

I wonder what it was and what became of it?

Yeah ... it's got me stumped too: have to do a bit of trawling (no pun) I reckon.

If not a sub, at least a super-low freeboard/silhouette job. Torps at the front fitting into the hull scallops, maybe.

 

 

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Likewise, Geoff, thanks for the reminder & links . It's certainly an odd one. I can see your theory with the low freeboard/ torpedo scallops. There seems to be a small outside wheel & console forward of the cabin. With all that plumbing over what looks like the wheelhouse, I wonder whether it does submerge, if only just under the surface. Another thing is whether it's purpose built or a previous craft modified. It has hydroplanes just above the prop shaft, so it must dive to some extent. Looks a bit like something Z Force would use.

 

Cheers, Willie.

 

 

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Hi folks,

 

Just returned from accompanying Dad (now aged 92) to the commemoration at Darwin. We went to Darwin last Wednesday and returned the following Tuesday. It was a great event that included a number of talks and exhibitions including the main event on Sunday 19th. We also examined the new Darwin Bombing Experience section at the Military Museum at East Point. This is a display not to be missed if you ever get up that way. It is an amalgamation of old photos with modern technology to create an experience resembling the events of the day. Just a slight taste of what it might have been like were you unlucky enough to have been there.

 

My Dad arrived a couple days after the bombing after having his ship run aground (The Voyager) in East Timor and get blown to bits by Japanese bombers. Upon arriving at Darwin he described it as "Dead". He and the rest of the crew thought they would get sent south for survivor's leave, and most did, but about 30 of them (including Dad) were picked to stay on and assist with the operation of the Darwin boom defense- a large anti-submarine net strung across the harbour entrance. Dad said the tides were so strong that it never really functioned all that well and they were always heading out to sea to retrieve bits of it. He endured many of the follow-up attacks on Darwin, commenting that the Japs seemed to know that they attended church on Sundays and would bomb the place at about 11:00am. He was there for about 18 months before going south to do a gunnery course so he could throw some stuff back at them...

 

Spoke to one chap (aged 88) who flew in B-24's out of airfields near Darwin in the last couple of years. He was a WAG (Wireless/Air Gunner). I asked him if it was cold operating his machine gun out of the big hole in the side of the bomber. Not at all, he said, this was the tropics, and they usually flew in their ordinary clothes at about 10,000 to 12,000'. He commented that most crews had some pretty wild rides in thunderstorms and considered the weather a more deadly enemy than the Japanese.

 

Dad helped retrieve one Spitfire pilot who came down in the drink after engine failure. He cast off some of his gear after they pulled him out of the water, and someone kicked it over the side. Turned out it was a distress flare which promptly activated, revealing their location to any enemy ship or sub that might happen to be in the vicinity. The Captain ordered "All ahead full" and they steamed back to Darwin at top speed...

 

I've picked up a book written by one of the Spitfire pilots who ditched out of Darwin and it seems that the glycol coolant was a source of much trouble early on because it would boil, attack the aluminium and create coolant leaks ultimately resulting in engine failure. Another problem was the oil in the propellor constant speed units which also apparently couldn't stand the heat of a prolonged full throttle climb, leading to propellor overspeed and a seized engine. They lost quite a few Spits to these difficulties until the systems were properly "tropicalised". They lost quite a few more to the difficulty of landing in crosswinds on narrow strips surrounded by scrub. No "all-over" strips up there, so they had to land in the direction of the strip, and the Spit's narrow undercart made this difficult, with little room for error. Three pilots with seized engines bravely tried to dead-stick their machines into these strips- only one got away with it.

 

The MV Neptune should have been unloaded a couple days earlier, but apparently some union action slowed the process down with the result that it still contained a load of mines when the Japanese arrived. Sadly, this cost a number of lives that might otherwise have been spared. The knowledge that the Japanese might attack Darwin was well known, yet the lack of preparation was staggering. But no amount of preparation can save you if a bomb scores a direct hit on a bomb shelter- as happened at the Darwin post office, taking out an entire family and several other postal workers who had stayed on to maintain communications. Dad discovered pretty quickly that it didn't pay to be first to the slit trench- if the Japs didn't get you, then you'd get suffocated by all the other bodies that piled in on top of you...

 

Both a fascinating and also sobering week. The Japanese supply lines were too stretched for them to contemplate an invasion of the Australian mainland, and that's about all that saved us until the Americans arrived in force.

 

Cheers,

 

Coop

 

 

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That's good, Coop. I took my dad back to Cowra a couple of years ago & down to the War Memorial & glad I did, as he's not up to that sort of trip anymore. There's certainly a lot of stories stored away in the memories of our WW2 diggers.

 

Cheers, Willie.

 

 

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