Saturday, October 28, 2017

Readers Write

Sue P sent me an email during the week in response to the item about the WW2 Japanese invasion threat propaganda poster banned in Queensland and Melbourne as being likely to damage public morale:

Sue commented ‘Not to forget the attacks on Darwin of course - also deemed "too scary" for public morale.’

Sue accompanied her email with the following image:

Some comments:

From Wikipedia at:
Attacks on Australia During WW2: 
  • Due to Australia's geographic position there were relatively few attacks on Australia during World War II. Axis surface raiders and submarines periodically attacked shipping in Australian waters from 1940 to early 1945 and Japanese aircraft bombed towns and airfields in Northern Australia on 97 occasions during 1942 and 1943.
Naval attacks:
  • Six German surface raiders operated in Australian waters at different times between 1940 and 1943. These ships sank a small number of merchant ships and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney. The German submarine U-862 also carried out attacks in Australian waters in late 1944 and early 1945. 
  • Japanese submarines operated in Australian waters from January 1942 until July 1944. Major submarine offensives were carried out against shipping off the Australian east coast from May to July 1942 and January to July 1943. 
  • On the evening of 31 May/morning of 1 June 1942, Sydney harbour came under direct attack from Japanese midget submarines. HMAS Kuttabul, a converted ferry being used as a troop sleeper, was hit and sunk. 22 sailors were killed, 19 Australians and 2 members of the Royal Navy. 
  • The only Japanese force to land in Australia during World War II was a reconnaissance party that landed in the Kimberley region of Western Australia on 19 January 1944 to investigate reports that the Allies were building large bases in the region. The party consisted of four Japanese officers on board a small fishing boat. It investigated the York Sound region for a day and a night before returning to Kupang in Timor on 20 January. Upon returning to Japan in February, the junior officer who commanded the party suggested using 200 Japanese prison inmates to launch a guerrilla campaign in Australia. Nothing came of this and the officer was posted to other duties.
Air attacks:
  • The first air raid on Australia occurred on 19 February 1942 when Darwin was attacked by 242 Japanese aircraft. Over two hundred people were killed in the raid. Occasional attacks on northern Australian towns and airfields continued until November 1943.

From the Australian Government website at:
During the Second World War, the Japanese flew 64 raids on Darwin and 33 raids on other targets in Northern Australia. 
On 19 February 1942, 188 Japanese planes were launched against Darwin, whose harbour was full of Allied ships. It was the largest Japanese attack since Pearl Harbour, 7 December 1941, and followed a reconnaissance flight on 10 February 1942. On that day there were 27 Allied ships in the harbour and approximately 30 aircraft at the Darwin Civil and RAAF airfields. 
The USS Houston convoy departed Darwin on 15 February 1942, followed by a Japanese flying boat which later engaged in an air strike. The USS Peary returned to Darwin on 19 February after an encounter with a possible Japanese submarine. On 19 February 1942 there were 46 ships packed into Darwin Harbour. 
From the first raid on 19 February 1942 until the last on 12 November 1943, Australia and its allies lost about 900 people, 77 aircraft and several ships. Many military and civilian facilities were destroyed. The Japanese lost about 131 aircraft in total during the attacks.
At the time, there were many rumours alluding to the Australian Government's suppression of information about the bombings - it was thought that reports of casualties were intentionally diminished to maintain national morale. 
Local sources estimated that between 900 and 1100 people were killed. For many years, government censorship limited coverage of the event to protect public morale in the southern states of Australia.


HMAS Sydney, lost on 19 November 1941 when involved in a mutually destructive engagement with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, resulting in the death of all 645 aboard. 318 of the Kormoran’s complement of 390 survived.

June 1, 1942. A Japanese midget submarine is raised from the bed of Sydney Harbour. The night before the picture was taken, the submarine's two crew members were part of a raid on shipping in Sydney Harbour.

HMAS Kuttabul following the Japanese attack

One of the Japanese midget submarines that attacked Sydney, on display in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra 

Oil tanks on fire after a Darwin bombing, 1942

The SS Barossa burns after being bombed by the Japanese.

A house is destroyed after being hit by a Japanese bomb during an attack on Darwin in 1942.

Lady Sarah Ashley, caught up in the first bombing of Darwin.  
Nahh, in the words of Dr Evil, I can't back that up.  It's Nicole Kidman during the Darwin bombing scene in the 2008 flick Australia.
Spoiler ahead . . .

Happy ending.  Awwww.

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