Darwin residents not warned of WWII bombing raids

When the strategically placed Darwin in Australia’s north was hit by enemy bombers 75 years ago, two radio warning messages were dismissed resulting in a real element of surprise. The Darwin Amateur Radio Club using the commemorative callsign VI8BOD is part of the 75th anniversary of the infamous and deadly raids costing 235 people their lives.

In two raids more bombs were dropped with the loss of aircraft and ships greater than that at Pearl Harbor the previous December. One message was received by the Darwin Coastal Radio Station VID and passed to the Area Combined Headquarters at the RAAF airfield. A Catholic Priest at the Bathurst Island Mission radioed a sighting also; then the six enemy fighters strafed the area north of Darwin damaging some buildings and destroying a Douglas C-53 aircraft on the ground.

However, authorities believed the flight was the United States Airforce returning to Darwin after aborting a mission to the Dutch East Indies. The residents had no prior warning of what was about to engulf Darwin.

There were two bombings on Darwin, one from an aircraft carrier used to hit Pearl Harbor in December 1941. It was followed two hours later by 54 land-based bombers from the Dutch East Indies occupied by the Japanese. engaged in war in the Pacific. In all up to 77 enemy air attacks were launched across Northern Australia to inflect fear, demoralise the Australian war effort, and take out allied resources.

At the old Qantas hangar in Parap, an inner suburb and the home of Darwin's first airport is VI8BOD. The event starts this weekend with plenty of activity. Call VI8BOD on 20 metres, CW or Phone, with the first 50 callers to get a free QSL card. The event starts at Noon (0330 UTC) Saturday 18 February until 9pm, and continues 6am to 4pm Sunday 19 February.

For the following month VI8BOD will be at various locations in the Darwin area. Full details and QSL information can be found at qrz.com

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