Bombing of Darwin


On 19 February 1942, World War II was brought to the shores of Australia when the Japanese dropped bombs over Darwin.

The Bombing of Darwin was the first of more than 90 Japanese air raids across the top end of Australia from February 1942 until November 1943.

The first wave of 188 aircraft attacked Darwin at 9:58am on Thursday 19 February 1942. 243 people were confirmed killed and between 320 and 500 injured. Eight ships (Naval & Civilian) were sunk in the harbour including USS Peary, in which more than 80 American sailors were killed. A section of the wharf was destroyed, killing 22 waterside workers. Over the next 21 months, Darwin, Adelaide River, Katherine and Milingimbi in Arnhem Land were bombed 64 times.

In recognition of this defining moment in Australia’s history, on 7 December 2011 the Governor-General proclaimed 19 February a national day of observance, to be known as Bombing of Darwin Day. 2015 is the 73rd Anniversary to tribute, honour and remember those who defended Darwin.

The Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin is commemorated each year on 19 February at the Cenotaph, Bicentennial Park, Darwin and attracts many veterans who served in Darwin around that time. The service begins at 9.30am with the sounding of the WWII air raid siren at 9.58am – the same time it sounded years ago as waves of Japanese bombers flew over the city.


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