The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Global War deceptions & mass manipulation, fear-mongering terror schemes and propaganda in the Age of the Bomb
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The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

The Bombing of Darwin - Australia’s Pearl Harbor

Contemporary newspaper articles do indeed indicate that the bombing of Darwin was similar to the Pearl Harbor attack of a few months earlier. It was another psychological operation designed to motivate people to get all patriomotic and be willing to make sacrifices for the war effort.

To investigate this event, I examined pre and post bombing newspaper articles using the excellent resource and the search term “Darwin bombing” (how long will Trove remain online?).

This investigation is lengthy and will be posted in parts.

[A]ll Australians must voluntarily answer the Government's call for complete giving of everything to the nation. I make it clear that the statement that has been made is official and authoritative. Nothing has been hidden. There is no ground for rumour.
If rumours circulate take no notice of them and deal sharply with any person who circulates them. The Government has told the truth. Face it as Australians.
Australian Prime Minister John Curtin as quoted by The Telegraph 19 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing

Some interesting historical article excerpts are included below, but first an overview:
The Bombing of Darwin [...] on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town, ships in Darwin's harbour and the town's two airfields in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases [...]
Darwin's pre-war population was 5,800.
Darwin, in the far north of Australia, is not a big city today, but back then it was a small town.
According to Waki, some estimates of the number of fatalities exceeded 1000. This would be absurd even if the town was not evacuated (see below). The accepted death count today appears to be around 250.
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

The first segment that follows here regards (mostly) the situation pre-bombing.
Post bombing reports will be included later and will be divided into segments:

-Qui bono?

--------------------------------------Prior to the “real” bombing

Reports of Darwin being bombed were circulated for weeks in advance. These were said to be enemy propaganda. So why would the press be giving this enemy propaganda wide exposure?

The Sun (Sydney, NSW)
Sun 4 Jan 1942 ... %20bombing
Japs Say Lisbon Says The Japs Bombed Darwin
TOKIO radio last night, quoting reports alleged to come from Lisbon (Portugal), said: "Port Darwin of Australia was the target of Japanese bomber formations for two hours on Friday. During the raid harbor facilities at Darwin were fatally damaged by the bombers."

Apparently rumours of bombing were not officially denied promptly. I wonder why...

Truth (Brisbane, Qld.)
Sun 18 Jan 1942 ... %20bombing
The ‘bombing' of Darwin by the imaginative adventurers of the ether in Tokio and Berlin is not forgotten. That furphy could have been nailed in a matter of hours had the Department of Information recalled that Darwin is actually in Australia.
It was a disturbing rumor and one that should have been officially disproved immediately instead of eventually.

The Japanese were reported to be within striking distance. Intermittent blackouts became a “complete blackout” for Darwin.

The Sun (Sydney, NSW)
Fri 23 Jan 1942 ... %20bombing
Queensland Alert

From Our Special Representative
Landing of Japanese troops in Rabaul, which has been silent since 4 p.m. yesterday, must now be assumed, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde)
announced this afternoon.
Stressing deliberately the "enormous gravity" of the situation, he added: "it is clear that the Japanese object is to use Rabaul as a base from
which to strike further south."
In the Northern Territory Major-General D. V. Blake has ordered complete blackout of Darwin and an area within a radius of 80 miles.
Note that Darwin was (and still is) the most populous town of the Northern Territory of Australia. Apparently the authorities suspected that every one-horse town near Darwin could also be a target.

The Albany Advertiser (WA )
Mon 16 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
Darwin Next On Jap List.

[...]The nearness of the offensive operations to Darwin seems to make it almost certain that Darwin is next on the Japanese balance sheet.

Air raid alerts escalated

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Mon 9 Feb 1942 ... %20warning

DARWIN had three air raid alerts yesterday and last night.
The Air Minister (Mr. Drakeford) announced the first alert in a war communique issued in Canberra last night.
“R.A.A.F. fighters were ordered into the air with a mission to intercept and drive off any raider which appeared” he said.
No Japanese attack developed, however.”
[...] Mr. Drakeford said that people must not be alarmed when the alert was sounded, as it did not necessarily mean that enemy bombs would follow.
The alert was sounded to give the people warning that an attack was possible.

“Give the people warning” = predictive programming

The Sun (Sydney, NSW)
Sun 15 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
Darwin had already lost illusion
FACT'S Darwin Correspondent
Picks and shovels were the order of the week for white collar bank officials and administration clerks at Darwin.
The air raid alert early in the week had impressed most people as being the real thing. They knew it was not a test for air raid sirens, and that it was quite probable that bombers would be over any minute.
Next morning, in boiling sun, they were digging and shovelling.
Lorries carted tons of seashore sand to fill bags for barricades and blast protection from bombs.
Just like Pearl Harbor, everyone knew that the attack was coming. Yet, when it arrived, there was no effective defence - it was a big surprise.
To be fair, it was not only Darwin getting the treatment. There were air raid drills and defence preparations going on much further south than Darwin (see below). There was fear mongering, (if not actual fear), far and wide. The Darwin bombing operation soon increased the fear factor as these post bombing articles show. Australia was not just on high alert for bombing, invasion was said to be a real possibility.

Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Sun 22 Feb 1942 ... 0/10222032
By Our Canberra Correspondent
WITHOUT wishing to cause undue alarm, the Commonwealth Government wishes the Queensland people to adjust their lives now on the assumption that their coastline may be attacked.
Lesson of the Darwin bombings is that it places strategic parts of Queensland in imminent peril.
The Darwin bombings may or may not have been the precursors of an attempted landing in force in the Northern Territory, but there are many strategic reasons why a sharp attack on some part of the Queensland coast, followed by an effort to secure a permanent base, may be expected.
Meeting Threat
The Commonwealth Government [...] recognises that [...] an attack on a selected Queensland coastal position may be expected.
Points from Cooktown to Gladstone are being mentioned in strategic discussions, and plans are being made to meet the expected threat.
Details of these cannot be disclosed, but it is important for the Queensland people to face the position squarely, and to recognise that they may be in the front line any time from now on.
Immense Importance
Mr. Curtin's declaration the day Singapore fell, that the battle for Australia had begun, has been given immediate justification by the attack on Darwin.
The fact must be faced that the battle for North Queensland may open at any moment.
"[...]Government wishes the [...] people to adjust their lives now" - the purpose of war.

Trenches were even being dug in schools 2600 km south of Darwin in my (former) neck of the woods!

The Mail (Adelaide, SA)
Sat 28 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing

SLIT TRENCHES for school children are considered so necessary by parents of children attending [...] public schools that parents began digging them today at Blair Athol without waiting for a lead from the Government.
The government is lagging, but, (according to the media), people are taking matters into their own hands - this sort of commentary became legion during the COVID times.
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

-----------------------------------------Post Bombing Reportage

How about the photographic record?
Do the contemporaneous reports include photos of bomb damage?
No, they do not.

I’ve looked at every article in Trove that included a photo with the search term “Darwin Bombing” from Feb 19 up until March 5 , there was not a single photo that came up that showed bomb damage. And it’s not the case that pictures were a rarity. Photos that are included with stories about Darwin show “survivors” who had travelled from Darwin or show Darwin before the “bombing” with captions such as “A view of the township of Darwin [that] was attacked by Japanese bombers this morning”.

Now, back to the articles....

Qui bono?

It happens that pre-prepared and tough regulations, a “new war-time economic order”, were approved the same day as the attack. War - an impetus for sweeping societal change.

The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld.)
Thu 19 Feb 1942 ... 20bombing2

First Physical Contact With War
SYDNEY. — The bombing of Darwin was first announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin).
A number of bombs were dropped. The extent of the raid and the result of the attack are not yet known.
Steps are being taken to ascertain all relevant details and as soon as these are known a further announcement will be made.
Mr. Curtin said that he had been advised of the attack by the Department of Air.
"As head of the Australian Government." he added. "I know there is no need to say anything other than these words—'Total mobilisation is the Government policy for Australia. Until the time elapses that all the necessary machinery can be put into effect all Australians must voluntarily answer the Government's call for complete giving of everything to the nation. I make it clear that the statement that has been made is official and authoritative. Nothing has been hidden. There is no ground for rumour.
If rumours circulate take no notice of them and deal sharply with any person who circulates them. The Government has told the truth. Face it as Australians.'"

The Scone Advocate (NSW)
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing

So as to carry out its plan of total mobilisation of the Nation's manpower and resources all red tape has been slashed by the Government in regulations gazetted to-day. The Government has assumed power to give out verbal orders to any Australian to perform specific duties.
In an extreme application, the regulations could be used by the Government to order a ‘scorched earth' policy, in any part of the country that might fall into Japanese hands. Sweeping economic regulations have now been promulgated.
Japanese planes began further air raids on Darwin this morning. The Minister for Air, Mr. Drakeford, announced to-day that in yesterday's raids 14 were killed and 24 injured.
The third raid was later declared a false alarm (see below).

Warwick Daily News (Qld.)
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... crifice%22
Distribution of Income and Sacrifice

SYDNEY, Thursday. — Introducing what Mr. Curtin described as greater equality in the community and establishing a basis for obtaining unity of effort, regulations were issued to-night giving effect to the Government's economic plan which was outlined by Mr. Curtin last week.
Mr. Curtin said this unity demanded the common belief that we are not only fighting for the existence of the nation, but also for new ideals of community life worthy of a great struggle.
[...]"Having produced a plan of simple economic justice, the Government expects the people to accept the basic features of the controlled economic system and to march rapidly forward to complete the Government's plans for economic mobilisation.”

Same page as previous
Sweeping and Drastic Regulations Issued

SYDNEY, Thursday. —
Sweeping and drastic regulations approved by the Governor General late to-night [...] bring into immediate operation most of the provisions of the new war-time economic order agreed to by the War Cabinet last week.
Government draftsmen had been working for more than a week on some of the regulations. So anxious was the Government to introduce them without delay that they were presented for signature to Lord Gowrie on the Canberra express after he left for Sydney to-night.
The total mobilisation regulation, which is short in general terms, is a blank cheque drawn upon every resource of the nation and empowers the executive to carry out virtual dictatorship. Its declared purpose is to "enable the Commonwealth during the present war to [...]" flatten the curve
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

The Drills

At the same time?
Coincidence or .... conspiracy?

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW)
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
The Bombing of Darwin

Yesterday morning the sirens were heralding an air raid test in Newcastle; an hour earlier they were giving at Darwin a real alarm, which was repeated in the afternoon. [...]

Warwick Daily News (Qld. )
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
Two Sustained and Heavy Raids on Darwin
--- 0 ---

A full statement concerning the raids will be made to the Federal Parliament by Mr.Curtin when Parliament meets in the secret session to-morrow. The first news of the raids reached Sydney while the War Advisory Council was sitting.
By a coincidence an air raid-test had been held in Sydney at 11 a.m. and War Council members had taken shelter while it lasted. They received information about the attack on Darwin just after the War Council meeting resumed.
Also note that communications were shut down - the signature of an information control operation. The post office, a major hub of information in those days, was singled out to be “bombed” (see below). The article continues...
The Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) received advice of the first attack soon after 11.30 a.m. This was a fragmentary message sent from the telegraph office at Darwin to the Acting Director-General of Postal Services (Mr. Fanning). This message said Japanese aircraft had appeared over the town, and the raid had started. It added the office was closing down until the raid ended. It was the last message received for some time.
The War Council summoned the Chief of the General Staff [...] and the Chief of the Air Staff [...] to seek further information, but the Army Minister, [...] announced afterwards that there had been communication difficulties and no information regarding details of the, raid or damage could be obtained.

Side note - Crisis actors have been around since at least 1942

South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW)
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
National Emergency Services

At 11 a.m. yesterday morning, air raid sirens sounded, and the public quickly realised that the daylight test arranged by the Minister for National Emergency Services [...] for the purpose of testing the reactions of the public, was in operation.
[...] it would seem that the citizens generally are becoming more used to air raid warnings, although as stated the great majority do not seem to regard same seriously.
Possibly the news that bombs have fallen in Darwin may create an added interest and a much more urgent desire to carry out the wishes of the Minister and seek safety as soon as the air raid warnings are heard.

* * *

An Exercise of the whole of the personnel of the Wollongong N.E.S. will be held on Sunday [...] . It is expected that a very large number of wardens will be patrolling, [...] that upwards of one hundred ‘casualties' will be treated for minor or major injuries. Rescue and Decontamination squads will be seen in work, also road repair gangs. First Aid Parties, Auxiliary Transport and Emergency Ambulances will be prominent and all essential services [...] will be co-operating.
It is expected that Sunday's exercise will illustrate to the public the value of the organisation to the civilian population.
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »


...and more false alarms.

The Evening Advocate (Innisfail, Qld.)
Fri 20 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
False Report Of Raid On Darwin?
CANBERRA. — Reports issued from Canberra at midday today that a raid was in progress on Darwin were later stated to have been incorrect.
The announcement that Darwin was again being raided today was made on both midday news sessions on the national radio hookup.
Prime Minister Curtin was quoted as the authority for the statement.
It is now known that 15 persons were killed and 24 injured in the two raids yesterday, a total of 39 casualties. Despite the fact that most of the women residents had been evacuated from Darwin, and few other than nurses remained, nine of the deaths are reported to have been women.

Most Women Had Been Withdrawn
CANBERRA,— Very few women and children remained in Darwin [...] according to a statement made this morning by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings).
[He] stated that a letter despatched a week ago by the administrator intimated that the withdrawal of women was then almost complete. Very few women remained other than nurses, of whom there were 72.
Nurses and telephonists - see below

Regarding the "false report", how could such a "mistake" have been made? It must have been deliberate and probably designed to add more confusion.
To emphasise the point, over a few months there had been these reports:

-----(more than one) "by the enemy" that Darwin was bombed
these were widely circulated by the local press. Official denials were not prompt.
-----(multiple) real alerts where the enemy failed to turn up
-----"real" bombing (two raids) (19th March)
-----third raid (20th March)
-----third raid revealed to be a "mistake"

If some people had heard that the "real" Darwin bombing reports were yet another false alarm / report, this could now be confused with the third raid being falsely reported.
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

Eyewitness Accounts

The reported accounts are not credible. I will highlight certain dodgy aspects as well as some of the contradictions. Readers may spot ones that I have missed.
"Eyewitness Accounts" will continue over several posts.

To begin with, Darwin "Vox Pop":

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Thu 5 Mar 1942 ... %20bombing
Darwin People Tell Lessons Raids Taught
Here are the stories of some of the evacuees, 90 of whom will stay in Brisbane, the others going to country centres: —
Shot Off Bicycle
Mr. F. Stock (wharf worker): “I was in town, and took shelter in the open, along the road. My mate, Gordon Walsh, was shot off his bicycle, but he is still alive. Slit trenches are excellent — they saved the policemen in Darwin. The Japanese got all people who were just on the ground.
Mr. P. Jan (stores worker): “I ran down a drain for shelter, and saw them hit the post office and the wharf. I have two brothers still in Darwin. Anti-aircraft fire was good, but something should be done to stop the definite leakage in information.'
Mr. Fred Smith: “I was with a gang doing Government work when the bombing started. I was blown up at three different places. We want more planes.”
C. Kelly (wharf labourer) : “I had worked on the wharf all night, and returned to the public school, where about 40 of us were housed, when the bombs began to fall.
There were from 25 to 30 of us at the school at the time, and we were in a position to see everything. Five bombs fell on the post office, and then one fell on a corner of the hospital. Bullets from the machine guns caused stones to fly, and I was struck by a stone, which wounded my arm. The bombing was done from a great height, probably 23,000 to 25,000 ft., as the fire from the anti-aircraft guns failed to reach them. The lack of shelters for the civil population was deplorable, and many, including all of us at the school,‘went bush.'”
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

Eyewitness Accounts continued...

"Survivor" Arthur Rudman is the star of this post.

Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Sun 22 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
Post Office Tragedy
Mr. Arthur Rudman, manager of Roslyn Court Flats, owned by Qantas, said: "A bomb landed fair and square on the postmaster's house. The postmaster and his wife and little girl were in a shelter. All were killed. The same blast got the post office, killing the telephonists.
"Typewriters were scattered In the wreckage. Near the post office there was a large crater. The blast, rocked every building for 100 yards away. I was 200 yards away.
Being "200 yards away", how can he have known that "every building for 100 yards" was "rocked”?
Note for later that in Rudman's account, the bombs preceded the alarm.

The Sun (Sydney, NSW)
Sun 22 Feb 1942 ... %20bombing
Alert Was Thunder of Crashing Bombs

Darwin was taken by surprise by this week’s raids. Mr. Arthur Rudman [...] said this after his arrival in Sydney yesterday by plane.
With a hand bandaged - an injury which he did not know he had received- his face drawn with strain and his tropical suit travel-stained, Mr Rudman claimed that the authorities in Darwin were caught “napping” by the Japanese.
"Exploding bombs were our alert. They were the first warning Darwin received
"The Japs must have had ‘extra special’ information about our defences. They did not waste bombs on unimportant targets, but made straight for the vital spots.
The post office was the first place hit. It was not just a fluke, they made straight for it and plastered it with everything they had.
One bomb, which completely engulfed the postmaster’s residence adjoining the post office, left a crater 30 feet deep.
“It was this bomb that killed nine postal employees, including the postmaster, his wife and daughter.
See link above for a photo of Rudman with a spiffy hat and a bandaged hand. See? He really was injured!

But how does the civilian Rudman know whether vital spots were hit or not? And why is he allowed to give details? As the article below shows, the Prime Minister would not provide details about the raid because any such information would aid the enemy. And here is a housing manager allowed to spout off? Did he and "The Sun" slip the censor?

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. )
Mon 23 Feb 1942
CANBERRA. — This afternoon the Prime Minister (Mr Curtin) said he wished to reply to complaints, which had been given wide publicity, that all the facts had not been told about the Darwin raid.
I can only wonder about these "complaints". Despite the "wide publicity", in the hundreds of articles that I perused, I didn't find a single one. Could the missing "facts" raised in these complaints have related to Darwin not actually having been bombed? The PM is quoted below:

"Information has been as full as the interests of security would permit," he said. "There were two heavy raids, as has already been stated. Darwin was bombed but not conquered, as I have already stated.
"I do not propose to give any particulars of the damage done other than in general terms, having regard to the certainty of the prior knowledge of the enemy of the general position in Darwin.
"I do not propose to inform the enemy of the degree of success or failure which marked their attack.
"Parliament was given precise particulars at the secret session of the damage done, and every aspect of the damage."
The PM knows everything, but won't tell. As a seasoned politician he gives a suitably ambiguous statement that leaves the scale of damage up to the reader's imagination.

Back to the "The Sun" article and here they give yet more aid to the enemy...


Direct hits were also scored on the new civilian hospital at Milly Point, on Bagot Hospital (the old aboriginal compound), and on the new military hospital in Berrimah.
I beg to differ, but it may occur to some that Rudman being allowed to make such statements and that his story is made up are indeed indicators that he is an agent, but, he is working on the good side - the target of his lies is the enemy.
This is a great advantage about war and the "fog" of it. The government / military has a ready-made fall-back position for any misinformation and almost any lie that is exposed - they can just say that, yes, while they regretfully did deceive their own countrymen, this was necessary collateral damage for the greater good - it had to be done to achieve the real objective which was to deceive the enemy.
No, the Australian public were the targets of this whole operation as these posts plainly show.
The article continues...
Every window in Smith-street (Darwin’s main thoroughfare) was shattered.
The blast from one bomb threw Mr. Rudman 30 feet along the ground. He picked himself up - unhurt.
...Unhurt because he did not yet know his hand was wounded. Not the "Sunday Mail" article, nor the one below thought that this amazing feat was worth mentioning. Or perhaps Rudman only told this to "The Sun"?

"From my shelter under a tree I could just get a glimpse of one of our AA batteries, and were those boys letting them have it!
"The fighters and bombers were sweeping down to within a hundred feet of our boys, but still they stuck to their guns and blazed away as plane after plane roared down on them.
"I saw one Jap plane whirl down with a cloud of smoke bursting from it. There was no one with me to cheer."

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Mon 23 Feb 1942 ... 34/2003384

Mr. A. Ruddman (sic), of Darwin, who was wounded in the raid, paid a special tribute to the anti-aircraft crews. He said that they kept blazing away with their guns, even when the enemy were within a couple of feet of them.

This is pulp fiction.
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