Darwin bombed! (2-19-42)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (February 19, 1942)

War carried to north coast city of Darwin

Nipponese airpower strikes important Allied naval base; refuge for American wounded

Sydney, Feb. 19 (AP) –
Port Darwin on the northern Australian coast has been bombed, Prime Minister John Curtin announced today.

Japanese planes have been reported in the Darwin area before but this was the first bombing attack.

Darwin is about 675 miles south of the Japanese-captured Dutch island base of Amboina, and is one of the few naval bases in the Pacific war region left to the United Nations.

Haven for American wounded

Australians working in record time had laid a road through the middle desert wastes of this continent to link Darwin with southern Australia.

An American hospital ship evacuating wounded from the Philippines recently arrived there.

Australia has garrisoned the area and erected a network of defenses extending inland to repulse landing attempts.

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Reading Eagle (February 19, 1942)

100 planes attack port in Australia

Military installations damaged considerably at vital Allied base

4 raiders downed

Details on loss of life not available, Curtin says from sick bed

Sydney, Australia, Feb. 19 (UP) –
A strong Japanese Air Force of about 100 bombers protected by fighters heavily bombed the north Australian port of Darwin twice today, inflicting considerable damage on military installations in the vital Allied base. At least four enemy bombers were shot down.

The first attack on the Australian continent was made by approximately 75 bombers, accompanied by fighter planes, while 21 bombers participated in the second raid this afternoon.

Prime Minister John Curtin said that at least four of the 21 bombers that attacked the city and port in the second raid were downed.

Curtin lauds gallantry

Curtin’s announcement, made from a sick bed, said that the bombers had caused considerable damage but that details were not available concerning loss of life. Curtin is suffering from acute gastritis.

Curtin said:

Our armed forces and civilians behaved gallantly.

I have no information regarding casualties but it is most obvious that we suffered.

Curtin said he would make a full announcement as soon as he had received detailed news.

He said:

Australia has now experienced direct physical contact with the war. The policy of the government is total mobilization for all Australia. Until we have put the necessary machinery into motion, all Australians must voluntarily answer the government’s call. Everything must be given, completely, to the nation.

A Royal Australian Air Force communiqué said Australian planes had encountered Japanese fighter plane opposition over the Bismarck Islands, northeast of the continent, in their reconnaissance flights yesterday. Japanese attempts to interfere with the Australian planes were unsuccessful, it was added.

Japanese planes made reconnaissance flights over New Guinea, between the Bismarcks and the continent, the communiqué said, but dropped no bombs.

In attacking Darwin, the Japanese had extended their aerial offensive 1,100 miles to the west from New Guinea.