The raid on Darwin by Imperial Japan on 19 February 1942 was the first attack ever made by an enemy on Australian soil. The devastating attack by 242 Japanese aircraft sank eight ships and damaged a further fifteen in the harbour. An estimated 900 people were killed, with many hundreds injured. Twenty-three aircraft were destroyed.
From then until 12 November 1943, a further 64 bombing raids hit Darwin. Airfields, runways, oil tanks, railyards and navy yards were common targets, but the raids also hit civilian targets such as banks, stores and hotels. News of the attacks was strictly censored to keep from demoralising the Australian public.
The Darwin Defenders Association commemorates the 200,000 Australians who served in Darwin during the Second World War and those who lost their lives.
Shrine Governor Colonel John Coulson OAM RFD ED
Reviewed 23 November 2023