On 19 February 1942, 242 Japanese aircraft attacked the city of Darwin, Australia’s Northern Territory capital. Nearly 250 people were killed and between 300 and 400 people were injured. Bombs flattened much of the city, including its bustling Chinatown and Post Office, resulting in the death of the post-master, his family, and six telegraphists, hindering communication about the event to the rest of Australia. In Darwin Harbour, bombs sunk both the Neptuna and the USS Peary, adding more than 100 deaths to the toll. Aircraft continued to raid the city for the next 18 months in an effort to prevent Allied forces from using the port for operations to Timor and Indonesia.
To commemorate the event, Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said it was a day to reflect on the past and pay tribute to those servicemen and women and civilians who lost their lives while courageously defending the country. Two F-34A Lightning II aircraft will fly over Darwin Esplanade, accompanied by the HMAS Maryborough and soldiers and the Royal Australian Artillery in a re-enactment. Federal opposition leader Peter Dutton said the bombing of Darwin was an event which “changed our nation like no other” only two months after the devastation of Pearl Harbour rocked the United States, and Sunday was an occasion to remember those who died. “Their sacrifice is a legacy of lessons for Australians today and tomorrow: of our vulnerability as a nation, regardless of the times; of our need for vigilance, however improbable the threat; and of the enduring value of our northern defences against authoritarianism, whatever its form.”