An Awkward Truth: The Bombing of Darwin, February 1942 by Peter Grose

By Peter Grose

The compelling and extremely human tale of the 1st international attack on Australian soil given that settlement—the assault on Darwin through the japanese in February, 1942

The bombing of Darwin on February 19, 1942, is the conflict Australia attempts to overlook. even though there has been a lot to be pleased with that day—courage, mateship, decision, and improvisation—the darkish aspect of the tale lingers: looting, desertion, and a calamitous failure of Australian management. the japanese struck with a similar carrier-borne strength that devastated Pearl Harbor simply ten weeks past. there has been a distinction: they dropped extra bombs on Darwin, killed extra civilians in Darwin, and sank extra ships in Darwin than in Pearl Harbor. It continues to be the one deadliest occasion in Australian heritage. but the tale has remained within the shadows. soaking up, lively, and fast paced, An Awkward fact is a compelling and revealing tale of the day conflict first got here to Australia, and of the underarmed and unprepared infantrymen and civilians who confronted their hardest attempt on domestic soil.

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The port of Pearl Harbor and the city of Honolulu are both on the southern side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. A high mountain range runs south-east across the centre of the island, with Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in a large coastal plain beyond the mountains. Fuchida’s formation was approaching from the north, so they would have to cross the range before they could attack. Fuchida noted the time. He had been airborne one hour and 40 minutes. They were still flying over thick cloud, but they must be getting close to the target.

Then, for reasons known only to the original designer, the wharf turned a right angle, known as the ‘Elbow’. On the elbow was a turntable operated by a steam-driven ‘donkey engine’. A locomotive could shunt rail cars as far as the turntable but not beyond. The turntable would accommodate only two cars at a time. The carriages were then dragged two at a time by hand a further 100 metres to put them alongside the ships being unloaded. A maximum of five carriages at any one time could be accommodated on the loading arm of the wharf.

If it failed and the carrier force was lost, then on the first day of the war Japan would see its key strength and fighting capability destroyed. Even a large carrier could be taken out by just two or three bombs. If the Americans got a warning, or just got lucky, Japan could lose the war in a day. ◆ ◆ ◆ An Awkward Truth 36 ◆ 9/1/09 12:59 PM Page 36 A N AW K WA R D T R U T H On 5 November 1941, two days after the fateful meeting between Yamamoto and Nagumo in Tokyo, the Japanese government decided that if the negotiations currently taking place in Washington had not produced an acceptable result by 30 November then Japan would go to war.

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