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Wreckage of an aircraft shot down in Darwin

Date: 1943
Overall: 81 x 106 x 1 mm
Medium: Glass plate
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Allan Seabrook
Object Name: Glass plate negative
Object No: 00051861
Related Place:Walsh Bay, Darwin,

User Terms

    The photograph depicts a Japanese aircraft shot down by the RAAF in World War II during the Darwin air raids that occurred between 1942 - 1943. This aircraft was sent to Sydney for inspection. The photograph was taken in 1943 by Allan Seabrook, an employee of the Union Steamship Company, and is located in Walsh Bay.
    SignificanceThis photograph records relates to the air raids on Darwin in WWII and the subsequent investigation of the Japanese aircraft used.
    HistoryDarwin was a strategic port and air base for Australia during World War II. The outbreak of war in the Pacific increased military presence in the port city. It was used as a base to deploy forces to defend the Dutch East Indies. Despite improved defences the city was unprepared for enemy attack.

    On 19 February 1942 Japanese forces attacked mainland Australia with two air raids on the same day. A total of 54 land-based bombers and approximately 188 attack aircraft were launched from four Japanese aircraft carriers in the Timor Sea, led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who had also led the attack on Pearl Harbor 10 weeks earlier. The raids focused on the harbour, shipping, aerodromes, the RAAF base and the hospital. Whilst the official death toll made public at the time was 17, these attacks actually killed at least 243 people and wounded 300-400. Approximately 45 ships were in the harbour at the time. Eight were sunk, two were beached and later refloated, and many of the rest had some damage inflicted from the attacks. Due to fear of an imminent invasion, half the civilian population of Darwin left the city heading south in search of refuge.

    Between April 1942 and November 1943 Darwin had a further 62 air raids. Another 33 air raids occurred in other north Australian cities, from Broome, WA to Townsville, QLD. In January 1943, No. 1 Fighter Wing RAF arrived in the Darwin region with three Spitfire squadrons. No. 54 RAF was stationed at Darwin. On 2 and 5 March 1943 the Spitfires first clashed with the Japanese fighters and bombers over Darwin. On 20 June 1943 the RAAF had their most successful encounter over Darwin, shooting down nine bombers and five fighters. The last air raid on Darwin took place on 12 November 1943.

    This photograph depicts one of the Japanese aircraft shot down in Darwin in World War II and sent to Sydney for inspection. The photograph was taken in Walsh Bay, 1943.
    Related People
    Photographer: Allan Seabrook

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