By Peter Grose
Darwin used to be a conflict Australia might fairly overlook. but the japanese assault on 19 February 1942 used to be the 1st wartime attack on Australian soil. the japanese struck with a similar carrier-borne strength that devastated Pearl Harbor simply ten weeks past. there has been a distinction. extra bombs fell on Darwin, extra civilians have been killed, and extra ships have been sunk. The raid resulted in the worst demise toll from any occasion in Australia. The attackers bombed and strafed 3 hospitals, flattened retailers, workplaces and the police barracks, shattered the submit workplace and communications centre, wrecked govt residence, and left the harbour and airfields burning and ruined. the folk of Darwin deserted their city, leaving it to looters, a couple of anti-aircraft batteries and a handful of dogged defenders with single-shot .303 rifles. but the tale has remained within the shadows. Drawing on long-hidden files and first-person money owed, Peter Grose tells what fairly occurred and takes us into the lives of the folk who have been there. there has been a lot to be pleased with in Darwin that day: braveness, mateship, decision and improvisation. however the darkish aspect of the tale comprises looting, desertion and a calamitous failure of management. Australians ran away simply because they didn't be aware of what else to do. soaking up, lively and fast moving, a clumsy fact is a compelling and revealing tale of the day battle rather got here to Australia, and the motley bunch of infantrymen and civilians who have been left to safeguard the state.
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Extra info for An awkward truth : the bombing of Darwin, February 1942
Yamamoto decreed that the Pearl Harbor attack had to meet three essential conditions: Japan’s entire large carrier force should take part, with no large carriers kept in reserve; only the best crews and commanders should be selected; and total secrecy should be preserved. Sending the entire large carrier fleet and the best crews was the equivalent of betting the farm. If the attack worked and crippled the Americans, then Japan would be free to roam the Pacific and South-East Asia with little to challenge it.
It was too risky. Yamamoto, who remained opposed to war anyway, was adamant that the only chance of success lay with an An Awkward Truth 34 ◆ 9/1/09 12:59 PM Page 34 A N AW K WA R D T R U T H early defeat of the US Pacific Fleet. If war broke out, however much that might have been against Yamamoto’s wishes, it would be up to him as Commander-in-Chief to bring it to a successful conclusion. He threatened to resign unless he had his way and was authorised to attack Pearl Harbor first. If Admiral Nagumo was half-hearted about the plan and did not want to lead the Carrier Striking Force to Pearl Harbor, then Yamamoto would be happy to take over and do the job himself.
Brereton again asked Sutherland for MacArthur’s permission to attack Japanese targets. Sutherland again refused to put the request to the general. Nothing happened. , MacArthur agreed to a counter-attack. That was when the Japanese struck. , over nine hours after the first An Awkward Truth 9/1/09 12:59 PM Page 43 ONE SUITCASE, ONE SMALL CALICO BAG ◆ 43 warning that war had broken out, a massive wave of some 500 aircraft swept in from Formosa and caught the Americans at their most defenceless. In the space of an hour, they destroyed half of MacArthur’s Far East Air Force on the ground.
An awkward truth : the bombing of Darwin, February 1942 by Peter Grose