THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
19 February 2011
On the 69th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, and Senator for the Northern Territory, Trish Crossin encouraged Australians to take time to reflect on the moment in history when war came to Australian soil.
Mr Snowdon said the events of 19 February 1942 and the months that followed are an important part of Australia’s history which should not be forgotten.
“The morning attacks by 242 Japanese aircraft caused death and destruction across Darwin. Many sites including the harbour, RAAF base, aerodromes, aircraft, post office, administration building and the Army hospital were destroyed. Eight ships were sunk in Darwin harbour and another two near Bathurst Island and a number of military aircraft were destroyed.
“The loss of life was significant, with some 250 people killed and hundreds injured, including service personnel and civilians. Australians should pay tribute to those who died in the Bombing of Darwin and in the defence of Australia,” Mr Snowdon said.
From the time of this first raid until the last on 12 November 1943, Darwin and other northern Australian sites endured more than 90 air raids carried out by the Japanese.
Attending a commemorative service at the Cenotaph in Darwin on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Veterans Affairs’, Ms Crossin said the attacks confirmed for many Australians that they were now fighting a war in direct defence of their own country.
“While Australians began the war fighting the Italians and Germans in North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Japan’s entry into the war in December 1941 brought the conflict into our own region.
“Japan’s rapid advance through Southeast Asia made the threat of war reaching Australia a reality for many. On 19 February 1942, only four days after the Fall of Singapore, Darwin came under attack twice in one day,” Ms Crossin said.
Services are held across the country to mark the anniversary of the bombing. The anniversary is also commemorated on the Battle for Australia Day on the first Wednesday of September each year.
Editor’s note: Images of the Bombing of Darwin are available for download from the DVA Media centre at www.dva.gov.au/media. Audio files and films of the Bombing of Darwin can be requested from the Australian War Memorial’s Collections web page at www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/
Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Senator Crossin: Carla Fernandes 0407 619 383