Air raids on Australian mainland – Second World War

The outbreak of war with Japan on 8 December 1941 provoked panic in some sections of the Australian public, and they expected air raids any day. It was not until the attack on Darwin on 19 February 1942 that a greater threat, the threat of invasion was recognised.

Two weeks after the attack on Darwin, Broome suffered Australia's second worst air raid on 3 March when 70 people were killed and 24 aircraft including 16 flying boats were destroyed. Simultaneous to the raid on Broome, eight Japanese fighters hit Wyndham. Broome was again hit on 20 March, the same day that Derby suffered its only raid. Horn Island was hit on 14 March and additional raids against Horn Island met no air resistance but ceased in August 1942.

In late July 1942, three raids were made against Townsville which was by then the most important air base in Australia. Three Kawanishi flying boats dropped bombs on the harbour on the night of 25–26 July and lone flying boats returned on the nights of 27–28 and 28–29 July. A final raid took place on the Australian east coast on the night of 30-31 July when a single bomb was dropped near a house in the Mossman district 75km North West of Cairns.


  • Australia Remembers Taskforce, Australia remembers 1945-1995: commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II: background information, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Canberra, 1994

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