The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Global War deceptions & mass manipulation, fear-mongering terror schemes and propaganda in the Age of the Bomb
Macaria
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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 https://trove.nla.gov.au/ and the search term “Darwin bombing” (how long will Trove remain online?).

This investigation is lengthy and will be posted in parts.

Introduction
[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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing

Some interesting historical article excerpts are included below, but first an overview:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Darwin
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.
Macaria
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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?
-Drills
-Evacuation
-Eyewitnesses


--------------------------------------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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
INFORMATION, PLEASE!
[...]
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
JAPS BELIEVED TO BE IN RABAUL
Queensland Alert
RUSH MEETING OF CABINET

From Our Special Representative
MELBOURNE, Friday.
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
ALLIED WARSHIP ATTACKED
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20warning
THREE RAID ALERTS IN DARWIN;
FIGHTERS UP

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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 0/10222032
ATTACK HERE NOW POSSIBILITY
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
PARENTS DIG - HELP SCHOOLS

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.
Macaria
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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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 20bombing2

JAP. PLANES BOMB DARWIN
[...]
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
THIRD RAID ON DARWIN.
HOSPITALS BOMBED AND MACHINE-GUNNED.

[...]
CANBERRA, Friday.
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... crifice%22
ECONOMIC PLAN
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
NEW ORDER
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 [...]"
...to flatten the curve
Macaria
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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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
Two Sustained and Heavy Raids on Darwin
HEAVY DAMAGE
--- 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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
National Emergency Services
DAYLIGHT TEST

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.

* * *
AT WOLLONGONG
EXERCISE THIS SUNDAY

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.
[...]
Macaria
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

-
Evacuations

...and more false alarms.

The Evening Advocate (Innisfail, Qld.)
Fri 20 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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.
Macaria
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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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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.'”
Macaria
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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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
SMOKE SCREENS DARWIN
[...]
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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/26673887
MR CURTIN ON DARWIN REPORTS
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 HIT ON HOSPITAL

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
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 34/2003384
EYE-WITNESS STORIES

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.
Macaria
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Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

-
-
Eyewitness Accounts continued...


Douglas Lockwood - reporter on the scene

The next witness has similar (low) credibility to Rudman. According this “special representative”, the “first place hit” could not have been the post office because this eyewitness was in that very building. He says that the waterfront was the first place hit and that this was after the alarm.

News (Adelaide, SA)
Sat 21 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 5/11347102
Eye-Witness Tells

From Our Special Representative
[...]
KATHERINE.- After the second raid I set out with two other pressmen for Adelaide River, and from there came on today in open railway trucks for more than 100 miles of stinging heat, with people being evacuated.
For the first five miles out of town I drove through a black pall of smoke, which was particularly noticeable where two formations of 24 bombers had dropped every thing they had.
When the alarm sounded I was at the post office, and as soon as the warning was given, tried to write an urgent telegram. But when I picked up a pen it was knocked from my fingers by, a falling fragment from the first bombs, which burst round the waterfront.
I made a dash in a car for a slit trench, and by this time bombs were falling all over the place.
From the trench I could see a number of tight formations of six and seven, Messerschmitts at a height of approximately 22,000 ft., but though the planes were so high I could see silvery streaks as the bombs left the racks.

ANXIOUS MOMENTS

One stick was released directly over me, and I don't mind saying I had a few anxious moments. But they veered off. [...]
The next uncomfortable moment came when a dive-bomber, with one of our fighters on its tail, came down directly over my trench. It released bombs, which landed on the docks.
[...]
More pulpy fiction - and this time with the Japanese air force flying German planes!
The article above was reproduced in “The Herald” which established the author of the piece as one Douglas Lockwood.

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.) 
Sat 21 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing
 In his first despatch since the Japanese raids D. W. LOCKWOOD, The Herald’s Darwin correspondent, [...] pays tribute to the anti-aircraft gunners and stresses the need for fighter air-craft.

Two days later, a further account by Lockwood appeared in “The Courier-Mail”.

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.)
Mon 23 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 34/2003384
DARWIN IS STRONGER: ARMY RULES,CIVILIANS GO

By Douglas Lockwood. Our Special Correspondent at Darwin.
AFTER two air raids Darwin is now a 'ghost town' from the civilian point of view, but on the other hand it is growing stronger militarily every day, despite Thursday's savage attacks. Nearly all civilians are out of the town and military control is operating.
There are no illusions about Japanese intentions, and probably it is only a matter of time before they return and attempt to wipe out the town.
Bomb craters in the streets around the main road,and marks of armour-piercing machine-gun bullets around the wharf and at the civilian hospital are grim reminders that the bombing was not a dream.
Still waiting for the photos...
From the doubtful shelter of a small hole, which half covered me, I watched both raids. I saw the first stick of bombs released from a tight formation of seven Messerschmitt 110's. [...]

Gunners Did Well
In the second raid two formations of 24 Messerschmitts let go all they had. Zero fighters machine-gunned docks, ships, and wharves. Our planes went out to intercept the attackers and are believed to have shot some down.
[...]It has been confirmed that the Japanese machine-gunned hospitals.
[...]
Crater depths show that the raiders used very heavy bombs, which when they hit seemed to keep on hitting.
Rubble from craters was deposited in streets hundreds of yards away, and a cable barrel, weighing about 600lb, was lifted over half a dozen houses and deposited in the grounds of a hotel, 200 yards distant.

Women's Bravery
[...].
Although injured themselves, the nurses limped about gallantly, tending the wounds of others.
[...]
Rumours were flying everywhere that Darwin had been bombed again, but these later proved untrue. [...]

A third absurd account, apparently extracted from Lockwood's book “Fair Dinkum”, can be found here:
https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2021/06 ... -years-on/ where he was remembered 40 years after his passing as: “something of a media legend in the Territory”.
Douglas Lockwood of all places was at the post office [...].
Lockwood made for his house where he crawled into a three-inch gutter.  What sort of protection was that? 
Perhaps not as good as the “slit-trench” (story 1), or the “small hole” (story 2).
From his crevice Lockwood watched a Zero on the tail of an American P40 less than a thousand feet above. Spent machine gun shells fell around as smoke suddenly poured from the P40 that inevitably dived into a death plunge.
When the Neptuna exploded Lockwood watched from his house as lifeboats, the mainmast, steel plates, rafts, spars and funnels floated hundreds of feet into the air like so many soft toys being tossed about a room. 
All this would be graphic, first-hand information for Lockwood’s report to The Herald. 
Apart from the pulpy prose, this version bears no resemblance to his actual report (linked above) which we were told was: “his first despatch since the Japanese raids”

The account continues...
Lockwood crawled out of his crevice to see USS Peary going down. Behind her he saw the Meigs and the Mauna in the throes of fiery deaths.  Then Lockwood watched sailors jumping into the sea from the almost vertical decks of the USS Peary moments before she disappeared below the surface.
When the All Clear sounded Lockwood raced to his typewriter and pounded his first take. This was really the first draft of history. It had to be a scoop given that he represented all the evening newspapers. 
Lockwood drove frantically to the telegraph office to file his scoop.  He stared aghast at what had been the post office.  Nineteen bombs had effectively destroyed the entire PMG communications system! He looked on mournfully as the shattered bodies of nine people were carried from the bomb site and placed on the back of an open truck....
Lockwood was devastated when he saw the heavily censored version of his story in print.
Lockwood, having witnessed each of the most dramatic events of the bombing; the bombs dropping, the ships sinking and death plunging sailors, and then having returned to the bomb-out post office and witnessing the corpses there, was not distraught by the death and carnage, no, he was too busy griping over the censorship. Yeah right.
Perhaps we are supposed to blame all the discrepancies and absurdities in his articles as a result of them being “heavily censored”...

One of Lockwood’s books, written decades after the bombing, is “Australia’s Pearl Harbour, Darwin 1942”. Just for fun, contrast the caliber of his work above with this glowing book review.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/692 ... arwin_1942
This book is an excellent and scholarly review of the happenings that resulted from the bombing of Darwin [...]. Douglas Lockwood has dealt with myth and rumours, and established a factual account in his book, which should be compulsory reading for all seriously interested in Australian history and of the history of World War II.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

-----Taking a little detour now from the bombing to look a little at Lockwood himself-----

After the bombing, Lockwood’s career took a turn from journalism.

https://halloffame.melbournepressclub.c ... s-lockwood
Enlisting in the AIF on 15 June, he trained in intelligence and security. He served in New Guinea and on Bougainville in 1944-45 with V and Z Field Security sections. After his discharge on 15 June 1945, he was a war correspondent for The Herald, reporting from the Netherlands East Indies.
Reporting on war (the bombing) -> serving the military ("field security") -> reporting on war (again)
Military intelligence, journalism - same shit, different shovel.

The Petrov affair

The other major event where Lockwood scored a scoop was in Australia’s most controversial espionage fiasco: “The Petrov Affair”. In 1954 Soviet diplomat Petrov defected. Lockwood, and apparently only Lockwood, was able to relay the dramatic circumstances at Darwin airport.

https://halloffame.melbournepressclub.c ... s-lockwood
How he got the story out - by arranging for his office in Melbourne to ring him at the airport every half-hour while the drama was going on around him - is still a lesson for young reporters. (Other journalists, trying frantically to get calls through to the south on lines jammed with government traffic, had to watch and listen helplessly as he dictated the complete story. [...].)
Lockwood's drama, relaying how Petrov’s wife, at the point of taking off for home, decided to disobey her minders, step off the plane and take refuge in Australia, graced the pages of "Life" magazine.

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.)
Fri 7 May 1954
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 20lockwood
THE Petrov affair is the lead story in this week's issue of Life magazine, the well- known American pictorial weekly with a circulation of 5,200,000.
Life runs five pages of pictures with a 1000-word story by colleague Douglas Lockwood, The Herald's Darwin representative.
An important piece of propaganda apparently.

Of particular note is that Douglas’ half brother, Rupert Lockwood, was caught up in all the “reds under the bed” intrigue in the Petrov related Royal Commission two months later.

https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lockwo ... nest-27609
During the Cold War [Rupert] Lockwood became one of the best-known communists in Australia [...] , he was a gifted orator, prolific pamphleteer, and broadcaster. His activities were the objects of intense scrutiny by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. In 1954 he was an unwilling and hostile witness when subpoenaed to appear before the royal commission on espionage as the author of the notorious ‘Document J,’ [...]
So, a prominent mainstream journalist, despite his half brother’s open communist connection, swims right into military intelligence.
And in the Petrov affair, one reports on one act of the drama while the other is a suspect in later act.

For me, this is another case of people of “the club”, whatever that club is, playing both sides.
Macaria
Member
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2022 3:43 pm

Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

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Eyewitness Accounts continued...


McManus and Page - Heroines from a past era

Here are more improbable stories - improbable and contradictory. The information below centered on Ms Betty Page and Mrs McManus and daughter are sourced from two newspaper articles. Read them for yourself and believe them...or not.

News (Adelaide, South Australia), Sat 28 Feb 1942 (Article 1)
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing

and

The Mail (Adelaide, South Australia), Sat 28 Feb 1942 (Article 2)
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... %20bombing

A vengeful Betty Page was hit in the leg with shrapnel from a bomb...err ...hang on, .... was it a climbing injury?

Article 1.
WOUNDED DARWIN GIRL SEEKS REVENGE
Hit in Leg as She Ran for Shelter

"I'll have some of their blood. I'm going to make munitions now to get my own back."
This was the challenge flung back to the Japanese airmen who wounded her, by Miss Betty Page when she arrived in Adelaide last night with the Darwin evacuee party of nearly 300.
It epitomised the spirit of the first Australian women bombed in their homeland. [...] Miss Page, who formerly lived in Perth, was the first victim to reach Adelaide. Her leg was wounded by shrapnel.
"I was in the post office when I heard the hum of planes, and went out to see the formation," she said.
She was some sort of plane enthusiast apparently...
"Sirens screamed. I dashed in for my tin hat and ran for the shelter. Then a bomb dropped. I ducked, but collected my shrapnel in the leg." she said.
"I wasn't a bit afraid, but I didn't like the machine-gunning. I'd go back to Darwin now, if I were allowed."
Article 2.
DARWIN GIRLS BRAVERY IN AIR RAIDS
Planes Seen Thought Ours

Staying at the Grosvenor with [Mrs. McManus and her daughter June] is Miss Betty Page, the only staff member from the post office building who survived after injuries. She was badly injured while attempting to climb down the cliff in front of the building.


Mrs McManus - Red Cross worker.

Article 1.
Mrs. J. C. McManus,a Darwin Red Cross worker[...] sheltered in a dug out about 100 yards from the post office when the raid started.
Shrapnel fell on the roof. "But the machine-gunning was the worst." she added. "The Japanese kept it up for three-quarters of an hour. After a lull we were beginning to think of lunch and were going to get out of the shelter when they came again."
Mrs J. C. McManus has connections other than the Red Cross...

Article 2.
The bravery and calm of the girls of Darwin in last week’s air raids is one of the impressions that will stay longest in the mind of Mrs McManus, wife of Commander McManus
Commander James Cathal Boyd McManus, according to Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_McM ... lian_Navy)
was an officer in the Royal Australian Navy in World War I and World War II.
During World War II he served in Naval Intelligence.
If there was any doubt as to whether this was the Mr. McManus, Wikipedia states helpfully that McManus and wife:
had two children, Terence and June.
I’m sure it is of no significance, indeed, it is purely coincidental, that two of the survivors most prominently featured in the press just happen to be the wife and daughter of a military intelligence man...

The article continues:
Mrs. McManus, as a Red Cross worker, helped to tend the wounded until the last moment before coming away.
[...]

She was in the flats 100 yards from the post office, where her friends were killed, when she heard the first bomb fall.
She had gone out to take some clothes off the line before going to the post office, and looked up to watch, as she thought “some of our planes going over.''
There were nine machines in the air bombers in the centre and fighters escorting, and she thought, “they are in perfect formation.”
Almost immediately afterwards the first bombs fell, and the warning sounded. Mrs. McManus rushed into the next house, where a neighbor was ill in bed. and insisted that she get up and come to shelter.

[...]

Sheets Riddled
"The planes came very low, and some of my sheets on the line were riddled with shrapnel."
Looking out of their trench, Mrs. McManus and her daughter saw one Japanese plane come down.
Apart from Mrs McManus dealing with the loss of friends (and ruined washing) and Page vowing revenge for her shrapnel/cliff climbing wound another of the 300 evacuees experienced a traumatic event:

Article 1
Miss L. Holm, who had been a hairdresser at Darwin for four months, said she saw two girl friends blown up in the street by bombs.
Earth from the explosion hit her tin hat. She brought back a machine-gun bullet dug out of the street close to where she had stood at the start of the raid.
On top of these ordeals, the evacuees had just crossed the whole of Australia from north to south.

Article 1
Despite eight days' travel on the 2,000-mile journey in cattle truck, van, and passenger train...
Article 2
Describing the journey south by the evacuees, Mrs. McManus said that most of the time they were in open cattle trucks.
An 8 day 2,000 mile journey over forbidding desert - in summertime - and most of it in uncovered cattle trucks - bustled and jostled in the blazing sun - a hell of a ride!

After the hell ride, after the deaths of friends and wounding, one would expect the evacuees would still very much be in the grieving process as well as be physically exhausted...

Article 1.
...the women were surprisingly cheerful when they alighted on the blacked out platform shortly before midnight [...]
they had no word of complaint. They had been ordered to evacuate at half an hour's notice, but were loath to leave.
"If the officials gave the word to return there would be a stampede back to this train in the morning," declared one woman.
[...]
Mrs. J. C. McManus,a Darwin Red Cross worker picked up the wrong case when she left.
"My only hat is this steel helmet. I have only the clothes I'm wearing," she said.
The same clothes for eight days?
"It was a wonderful trip to Adelaide. Kindness was showered on us everywhere.
"We started off sitting on boxes in trucks and mattresses were supplied for the two slightly wounded.
"At no time were we without food. ...
[...]
Several other elderly women made the trip. On arrival they were cheerful, and did not appear to have suffered by the ordeal.
Article 2
Mrs. McManus and her daughter June arrived, with other evacuees, in Adelaide on Friday.
Both escaped without injury, except for a trench wound suffered by Mrs. McManus, but they said that all Darwin women, now that the experience was over, felt the effects of shock.
[...]
There was not a word of complaint or unfriendliness.
Displaying stoicism, more than that, showing good cheer in the face of a long and hard journey after experiencing great anguish and loss - these were clearly heroines of a golden age....

...or more likely, 1940s-era characters - poorly imagined.
Macaria
Member
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2022 3:43 pm

Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

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Eyewitness Accounts Continued...

This will probably be the last such account. They are all of this caliber, one as doubtful as another. I will follow this up with some miscellaneous material.

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.)
Sat 21 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 7/26673875
Mr J. R. C. Morris, of Qantas staff, was In the street when the bombing formations swooped over the town, and he was wounded in the arm. A heavy bomb landed 75 yards from him, and buried him beneath earth and rubble.
"The ground trembled, and there was a terrific crump," he said.
"Then a shower descended on me. I did not know I was wounded. My good aim was folded beneath my stomach, and when I discovered I was buried beneath a foot or two of rubbish, I pushed upwards, and managed to get clear.


Miscellaneous

The Japanese assisting "proper" development - Darwin "would have to be razed anyway".

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.)
Thu 19 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... 6/26673850
DEFENCE AREA

[...]
Civil Darwin has nothing of any value— except the lives of its inhabitants — which the Japanese can destroy.
Indeed, much of the unplanned architectural growth of years would have to be razed anyway in any proper developmental scheme. There are no civil authorities which cannot easily be removed elsewhere.

Pearl Harbor and Darwin - the same architect

https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-resear ... ing-darwin
[Darwin's] two attacks, [...] were planned and led by the commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor ten weeks earlier...
Macaria
Member
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2022 3:43 pm

Re: The Bombing of Darwin, Australia 1942

Unread post by Macaria »

.
The victims - a Mason and his family and some recent residents of Darwin.

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA )
Thu 26 Feb 1942
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/arti ... earchTerm=

P.O. VICTIMS KNOWN HERE
Deputy-Director's Sympathy

There was keen sorrow in the telephone branch at the Adelaide GPO [General Post Office] when names of the South Australian postal employees who died in the Japanese air raids on Darwin were made known. “They were all well known at city head quarters,” said the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Arnold), “and we have been greatly upset by the tragedy.” [...]
Mr. Arnold reported that altogether 70 members of the post office staff were stationed in Darwin. Eleven more of these had been injured but full details have not yet been received. [...]
[The victims:]
Mr. H. C. Bald, who, with his wife and daughter,[...] was killed is a former postmaster of the Glenelg Post Office.[...]
Mr. Bald enlisted in the last war and served overseas. [...]He was a member of the Masonic Lodge.
[...] Mr. A. T. R Halls, 49, who was a supervisor of telegraphs, arrived in Darwin only the previous Saturday [...].
Mr. Halls who is also a returned soldier, leaves a wife and four children.
[...] Mr. A. W. Wellington was a 26-year-old clerk with 11 years' service in the Postal Department. He went to Darwin several months ago on relief work. [...]
Misses Freda Stasinowsky and Eileen Mullen volunteered for duty at Darwin last May [ie volunteered approx 9 months before the bombing and must have arrived later than that], and were selected because of their efficiency.
[...] Miss Jean Mullen joined her sister in Darwin during her holidays a few months ago and volunteered to stay there as a telephonist because of the staff shortage.
[...]
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