Raids No. 1 & 2
Feburary 19 1942
243 killed, 350 wounded. Two ships set on fire, one blown up damaging the pier. Six
ships sunk and seven more damaged; three Catalina aircraft destroyed and
two US vessels destroyed. Post and Telegraph offices destroyed, Police
Station, Barracks, Cable Office, and Government offices destroyed and
hospital damaged. RAAF hospital, recreation hall, equipment store, many
houses and living quarters destroyed.
On 19 February 1942 four of the six
Japanese carriers that bombed Pearl Harbor launched another surprise
attack. Eighty-one planes were launched against Darwin whose harbour was
full of ships. Eight ships were sunk, two were beached and later
refloated and many of the other thirty-five ships in the harbour were
damaged by bomb or machine gun fire. Darwin town and the RAAF aerodrome
were also heavily damaged by the raid.
Darwin would have been without any air defence except that
ten Kittyhawks of the US 33rd Pursuit Squadron en route to Java had
turned back to Darwin. Five of the aircraft landed while the other five
remained in the air. In command in the air was Lieut Robert G
Oestreicher who spotted Japanese planes diving on the Kittyhawks. He
shouted a warning that Zeros were attacking. However three of the
Kittyhawks were quickly shot down with two of the pilots being killed. A
fourth American airman, although wounded, managed to land his damaged
aircraft. Lieut Oestreicher was the only pilot who stayed in the air
during the raid and was able to shoot down two Japanese planes although
only one kill was confirmed. The five Kittyhawks that had landed were
either destroyed on the ground or were shot down before they were able
to regain combat altitude. Two of these pilots, including their
Commanding Officer, Major Floyd Pell, were also killed. A second raid of
54 bombers two hours later on the same day met no resistance in the air.
Antiaircraft guns that day destroyed four Japanese aircraft and probably
destroyed another four. The raids on 19 February were the first two of sixty-four raids
against the Darwin area. There is no authoritative list of either
Allied or Japanese aircraft losses so the accompanying chart is the best
estimate from a number of sources.
Raid No. 3.
March 4 1942
One Hudson aircraft destroyed..
The third Japanese raid against Darwin was on
4 March with eight Zeros making the attack.
Raid No. 4
16 Mar 1942
Two airmen killed and four wounded.
Officers' Mess and one Hudson damaged.
Darwin remained without any air defence until the arrival,
on 17 March, of the United States 49th Fighter Group flying Kittyhawks.
While moving to Darwin, the Fighter Group staged through Horn Island.
Raid No. 5
19 Mar 1942
Naval HQ and residential area damaged.
14 bombers attacking and on 19 March with 7 bombers attacking.
Raid No. 6.
22 Mar 1942
Scub near Nightcliffs hit.
Raid No. 7.
28 Mar 1942
Runway and Wirraway hit.
The 49th Fighter Group was not up to full strength at
Darwin until mid April but the Group achieved its first victory during
the Japanese raid of 22 March 1942 in what was the first successful
radar controlled interception in Australia. During the period 28 March
to 27 April, the Kittyhawks intercepted the Japanese on seven occasions
and brought down 31 bombers and fighters. Antiaircraft guns brought down
another two bombers. Eight Kittyhawks were lost and three American
pilots were killed. Damage was not extensive although 30,000 gallons of
fuel was lost on 2 April.
Raid No. 8.
30 Mar 1942
Raids No. 9 & 10 31 Mar 1942
Bombs dropped in bush.
Raid No. 11
02 Apr 1942
Frog's Hollow fuel tank and civilian houses damaged.
Raid No. 12
04 Apr 1942
One killed and two wounded.
Civil aerodrome strafed.
Raid No. 13
05 Apr 1942
RAAF aerodrome cratered.
Raid No. 14
25 Apr 1942
RAAF aerodrome damaged
Raid No. 15
27 Apr 1942
RAAF station hit. three wounded. The Japanese did not attack Darwin during May but the following month
saw a concentrated series of attacks on four consecutive days. From 13
to 16 June, the Japanese attacked each day with 27 bombers escorted by
about 20 fighters except for 14 June when only the fighters attacked.
Despite the weight of the attacks, casualties were light and so was
damage to the installations. The Kittyhawks destroyed 13 Japanese
aircraft for the loss of 9 of their own. Second Lieut Andrew Reynolds
shot down his fifth victim over Darwin on 16 June and became the first
of five allied aces in the Darwin area.
Raid No. 16
13 Jun 1942
Buildings, airfield and fuel stocks hit.
Raid No. 17
14 Jun 1942
Raid No. 18
15 Jun 1942
Four killed twelve wounded.
Two buildings hit.
Raid No. 19
16 Jun 1942
Raid No. 20
25 Jul 1942
Power and water supplies Buildings damaged. The formation of RAAF radio location stations Nos 31, 105 and 109
enhanced the ability of the Kittyhawks to intercept the Japanese
raiders. However, in July the Japanese switched to night raids and from
25 July to 30 July sent small groups of bombers without escort to attack
Darwin. Without air-to-air radar these night raids were difficult to
intercept. On the afternoon of 30 July, 27 bombers with an escort of 15
to 20 fighters were intercepted by Kittyhawks. Nine Japanese aircraft
were confirmed as destroyed with a further ten probably destroyed or
Raid No. 21
26 Jul 1942
Three houses destroyed.
Raid No. 22
27 Jul 1942
Searchlight station hit.
Raid No. 23
28 Jul 1942
Raid No. 24
29 Jul 1942
Naval repair shop damaged.
Raids No. 25 & 26
30 Jul 1942
Fuel dumps, power, water, and telephone lines damaged.
Raid No. 27
23 Aug 1942
Hughes Field and aircraft damaged..
The Japanese launched their next attack against the Darwin area on 23
August 1942 with a heavy daylight raid against the RAAF airbase at
Hughes, fifty kilometres south of Darwin. Fuel and ammunition as well as
two aircraft on the ground were destroyed. The Japanese were intercepted
by 18 Kittyhawks which achieved their greatest success in bringing down
15 Japanese aircraft without loss. Among the successful American
pilots that day was First Lieut James B Morehead who became the second
ace in the Darwin area with his fourth and fifth confirmed kills. This
was to be the last fight of the US 49th Fighter Group in the Darwin area
since a further seven raids during the remainder of August were minor
raids at night which did not result in any interception. In five months
in the Darwin area the US 49th Fighter Group had destroyed 72 Japanese
aircraft for the loss of 17 Kittyhawks.
Raids No. 28 & 29
24 Aug 1942
Bombs dropped in swamp.
Raid No. 30
25 Aug 1942
Aeradio station and power lines damaged.
Raid No. 31
27 Aug 1942
Aeradio station hit.
Raid No. 32
28 Aug 1942
Raid No. 33
30 Aug 1942
Pipe line damaged.
Raid No. 34
31 Aug 1942
Raids No. 35 & 36
25 Sep 1942
Power and fuel supplies hit.
Raid No. 37
26 Sep 1942
Raids No. 38 & 39
27 Sep 1942
Raids No. 40, 41, 42 & 43
24 Oct 1942
Huts and water tanks damaged..
Raid No. 44
25 Oct 1942
Raid No. 45
26 Oct 1942
Buildings, power and telegraph lines damaged..
Raid No. 46
27 Oct 1942
Power lines damaged..
Raid No. 47
23 Nov 1942
Australian Kittyhawks moved to Darwin to replace the US Kittyhawks. In
August No 77 Squadron RAAF arrived in the area and was followed by No 76
Squadron RAAF in October. The Japanese changed tactics after the heavy
losses in August and abandoned heavy daylight raids for six months.
During September, five small raids were made in the last week of the
month without causing much damage. The Japanese continued with the same
tactics in seven raids in late October but this time they struck
Batchelor, Pell and Cox Peninsular as well as Darwin. Without air-to-air
radar the Australian pilots found it almost impossible to intercept
these Japanese night raids. In the last week of November, the Japanese
launched heavy raids of 12 to 18 bombers against Darwin and Hughes on
three nights. The only success of No 77 Squadron in the Darwin area
occurred on 23 November when Wing Commander Cresswell shot down a
nine-man Betty bomber in the first successful night interception over
Raid No. 48
26 Nov 1942
Darwin and Hughes Field damaged.
Raid No. 49
27 Nov 1942
Raid No. 50
20 Jan 1943
No 1 Fighter Wing, RAAF moved to the Darwin area with three Spitfire
squadrons, No 54 RAF at Darwin, No 452 RAAF at Strauss and No 457 RAAF
at Livingstone, during January 1943. Two small raids causing only minor
damage were not intercepted that month.
Raid No. 51
21 Jan 1943
Raid No. 52
02 Mar 1943
Coonallic strip strafed.
Spitfires had their first major clashes with the Japanese on 2 and 15
March 1943. On the 2nd, 16 bombers attacked the Beaufighter base at
Coomalie about 100 kilometres south of Darwin. The Spitfires destroyed
three aircraft. On the 15th, Darwin town was hit by a mixed group of 40
to 50 bombers and fighters. The Spitfires shot down seven and probably
destroyed another seven aircraft. Four Spitfires were lost but the only
casualty was the Commanding Officer of No. 452 Squadron.
Raid No. 53
15 Mar 1943
Fuel tanks, pipe lines and railway sheds hit.
Raid No. 54
02 May 1943
On 2 May 1943 the Japanese again attacked with a force of 20 bombers and
20 Zeros. Spitfires intercepted the Japanese and shot down six aircraft
and probably destroyed 4 more as well as damaging 8 others. Five
Spitfires were shot down and two pilots killed. However eight Spitfires
were forced to land through engine failure or shortage of fuel, although
six of these aircraft were later recovered. The press obtained the
casualty figures which resulted in press speculation that the Spitfires
had not done well against the attacking Japanese. The next raids
were against the airfield on Millingimbi Island east of Darwin. On 9
May, the Japanese raid killed twelve servicemen and civilians. Next day,
the Japanese were back but six Spitfires were able to intercept the
enemy force and brought down two Zeros and a float plane. However, the
Japanese sank a store ship and destroyed two aircraft and damaged three
others. The third and last attack on Millingimbi took place on 28 May.
Spitfires destroyed three bombers but two Spitfires with their pilots
disappeared into the Arafura Sea.
Raid No. 55
20 Jun 1943
Three killed and eleven wounded.
Winnellie area hit, also RAAF.
The Japanese returned to Darwin in strength on 20 June 1943. The
Spitfires intercepted the formation of 21 bombers and 21 fighters,
shooting down 9 bombers and 5 fighters. Two Spitfire pilots were shot
down and killed. This was the most successful encounter by the RAAF
over Darwin, during which Wing Commander Caldwell, an ace from the
European theatre, shot down his fifth Japanese aircraft. The other two
Darwin aces were RAF Squadron Leaders E M Gibbs and R W Foster of No 54,
Squadron RAF.(18) The Japanese again attacked on 28 June with nine
bombers and nine fighters. Four fighters were destroyed and two bombers
probably destroyed. One Spitfire was destroyed as a result of a forced
landing. However the pilot was uninjured. From 30 June the Japanese
directed their main attacks against the US Liberator base at Fenton,
about 150 kilometres south of Darwin. Spitfires that day intercepted 27
bombers and 23 fighters and shot down 6 bombers and 2 fighters. Six
Spitfires were lost, three due to engine failure, and one Spitfire pilot
was killed. On 6 July a similar sized Japanese force again attacked
Fenton. Seven bombers and two fighters were destroyed with another three
bombers damaged. Eight Spitfires were destroyed and three pilots killed.
A Liberator was destroyed by fire on the ground.
Raid No. 56
28 Jun 1943
Three huts damaged.
Raid No. 57
30 Jun 1943
Aircraft and vehicles damaged.
Raid No. 58
06 Jul 1943
Four aircraft damaged.
The raid on 6 July 1943 was the last in strength over the Darwin area.
Three raids in August were all at night and resulted in no casualties or
damage. The Japanese were not intercepted on any of these raids but four
Japanese reconnaissance aircraft were destroyed in mid August. August
also saw the last raids against Broome and Port Hedland. On 7 September
a twin engine aircraft escorted by fighters was intercepted by
Spitfires. Five enemy fighters were destroyed and several others damaged
for the loss of three Spitfires, with one pilot killed. Both raids in
September were against Fenton but involved no casualties or aircraft
losses. In the early morning of 12 November 1943, nine aircraft raided
Darwin and Fenton. With the help of searchlights two bombers were shot
down by Spitfires. This was the 64th and final raid on Darwin. Japanese reconnaissance aircraft continued to fly over the Darwin area.
The last Japanese aircraft destroyed in the Darwin area was shot down on
25 June 1944.
Raids No. 59 & 60
13 Aug 1943
Raid No. 61
21 Aug 1943
Fenton, Coomalic and Pell hit.
Raid No. 62
16 Sep 1943
Raid No. 63
19 Sep 1943
Raid No. 64
12 Nov 1943
Slight damage around Darwin
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