Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
New national day plans to commemorate the bombing of Darwin

Download PDFDownload PDF



18 NOVEMBER 2011

New National Day plans to commemorate the bombing of Darwin

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today proposed a new national day of observance on 19 February to commemorate the bombing attacks on Darwin and other northern Australian towns during the Second World War.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack, when on 19 February 1942, the Second World War reached Australia’s shores.

In two air raids, 242 attack aircraft and bombers carried out a pattern bombing of Darwin Harbour and surrounding areas.

It was the start of a sustained bombing campaign by the Japanese across Australia’s north which lasted almost two years and killed hundreds of Australians and Allies.

More than 240 people alone died during the first attacks on Darwin including civilians, post office workers and service personnel from Australia and the United States.

The Prime Minister announced that the Government intends to recommend to the Governor-General that 19 February be proclaimed as ‘Bombing of Darwin Day’ to ensure the attacks across Australia’s north are appropriately remembered and

commemorated every year.

The anniversary of the first attack on Darwin can then join Anzac Day and Remembrance Day as a date Australians pause to remember those who served and sacrificed their lives in defence of this country.

Darwin itself endured 64 bombing raids by the Japanese over 18 months destroying numerous civic and military buildings, boats and aircraft.

Many other towns across Australia’s north were also bombed by the Japanese including Broome where as many as 100 people lost their lives, Wyndham, Katherine, Townsville and Cairns.

Despite the significance of the Second World War coming to our shores, the bombings were downplayed at the time.

A day of remembrance on 19 February will ensure the hundreds of lives lost in those dark months of the Second World War are never forgotten, whether in Darwin, or any of the other communities hit across Australia’s north.

The proposal to formally recognise the impact of the bombing raids has been strongly supported by Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Labor Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon, and the Northern Territory Government.

The proposal will complement other preparations being made to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin next year.

The Gillard Labor Government has committed more than $330,000 to support the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.

The Federal Government funding will also work in partnership with the Northern Territory Government to establish the Defence of Darwin Museum to ensure those traumatic 18 months and the stories of those who served and died are

never forgotten.


PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744 MINISTER SNOWDON’S OFFICE 0400 045 999