More than 250 people died on 19 February 1942. Ten vessels were sunk and a range of key infrastructure, including the aerodromes, the wharf and the post and telegraph services, were either destroyed or badly damaged.
The Japanese raids continued across the Top End of the Northern Territory for a further 20 months. There was further infrastructure damage and loss of life during those months, but it was nothing like that of 19 February 1942.
Air operations, defensive and offensive, dominated military activities in the Northern Territory from 1942 to 1945, and much of the infrastructure built during this time was to support those operations.
Much of the Territory was under military control for the duration of the war and beyond. It was not until late February 1946 that civilians were allowed to return to Darwin and attempt to re-build lives interrupted by war. Many who had evacuated years before chose not to return.
Bruce Acland - "I was getting a little bit of what they called 'bomb happiness'. They've got all sorts of fancy psychological names for it now, but it just means you've had enough, and it's time for you to be pulled out".
Using a range of resources students could research the following:
War and the media
What stories were told about the bombing of Darwin?
What do newsreels and newspapers from the time tell you?
How would this story be told in the 21st Century? By what mediums?
Some of the news reports provide minimal information and the full story was not known across Australia for some time. Think about how news of world events is spread globally in the 21st Century and prepare a report outlining the effectiveness of modern day communication while examining the consequences of the media rich culture in which we live.
Research this topic during a visit to the Defence of Darwin Experience, other Museums and libraries. Access archived news reports on the bombing of Darwin from the National Library of Australia:
Who could join Australia’s armed forces during World War II?
What can you learn about the composition of the armed forces by looking around the Defence of Darwin Experience? Who were the soldiers, sailors and air force personnel?
The Journal of the Australian War Memorial, Issue 29(1996) provides interesting information on the composition of the Australian armed forces during World War II:
The Australian War Memorial website provides information and interesting pictures on the Second World War the photos provide information about the composition of the armed forces. What type of person was the average soldier, sailor or air force personnel?
People in war
To what extent did culture and/or gender influence an individual’s capacity to join Australia’s armed services during World War II?
What role did women play in the defence of Darwin and how would that be different now?
How significant was their contribution to the defence of Darwin?
What do the photos of women in the Defence of Darwin Experience tell us about the role of women in World War II?
How did the war change employment options for women?
To what extent did these changes determine/influence options for women?
To what extent does culture or gender influence an individual’s capacity to join the armed services today? Why is it different now?
The Australian Government provides oversight into the role of women in wartime at:
You might also want to take a look at some of the online video resources located in the ‘Online Video Resources’ file on this website.
“Nackaroos” and the “Black Watch”
Who were the “Nackaroos” and what did they do?
The North Australia Observation Unit (NAOU), nicknamed the “Nackeroos” or “Curtin’s Cowboys”, was created in mid-March 1942. The unit’s commander, Major William Stanner, had been an anthropologist before the war and knew the North well. The unit had the task of patrolling northern Australia to look for signs of enemy activity.
When you visit the Defence of Darwin Experience look for clues about the “Nackeroos” and the role of Indigenous Australians in that unit.
Students could research changes in Darwin’s population and consider a range of questions including:
Who was living in Darwin at the last ABS census? How does the population of Darwin in the 21st Century compare to the population pre-World War II?
Students can compare and contrast Darwin’s population and lifestyle in 1942 with 2006/2011 using ABS Census data as well as drawing on the wealth of information available in the Defence of Darwin Experience, other museums and the internet.
To investigate population numbers and gain further insight into the demography of the Northern Territory in 1942, students can access the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the following publications:
Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics – Demography 1942 http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/free.nsf/0/2616F974E1F8CD99CA257650001C5F13/$File/31410_No60_1942.pdf
Year Book Australia, 1942-43 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/1301.01942-43
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2006 Census QuickStats provide information on population numbers and characteristics: