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Remembering the Bombing of Darwin

75 years ago on February 19th 1942, hundreds of Australians lost their lives in the Bombing of Darwin.

An event which saw more bombs dropped on home soil than in Pearl Harbour some 2 months earlier, many people are still unaware of the true events of that day.

Brian Winspear was serving with 2 Squadron of the Royal Australian Airforce (RAAF) at the time, and spoke to Anita on Regional Roundup about his experiences.

When the forces discovered the Japanese were entering the war, Brian was evacuated from Kupang in West Timor, and flown back to Australia.

He had no idea that his destination, Darwin, was next in line to be bombed.

Brian recalls the events of that day.

But that wasn’t the last of it, a second air raid happened moments later.

Following all the destruction, people fled South to Adelaide as quickly as possible, Brian recalling the train carriages were so full that people had to give them a push to get up the hill.

Brian returned to Kupang the following day to pick up the remaining ground staff, but ran into 8 ships of the Japanese fleet that bombed Pearl Harbour along the way.

At the back of Kupang, they met the entire Japanese fleet, and Brian and his crew were lucky to escape with no ammunition by flying out between the ships.

After refueling at Bathurst Island, Brian continued daily reconnaissance flights between Kupang and Darwin until April 1942.

75% of the RAAF crews had been lost by that time.

Brian continues campaigning for greater recognition of the Bombings of Darwin today, and hopes everyone can take a moment of their time this Sunday to reflect, remember and honour his “forgotten mob” who fought so bravely to defend their country in 1942.

Image Source – The explosion of the MV Neptuna and clouds of smoke from oil storage tanks, hit during the first Japanese air raid on Australia’s mainland, at Darwin on February 19, 1942. In the foreground is HMAS Deloraine, which escaped damage – RAN Historical Collection