Bombing of Darwin Media Assets

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Watch the [The bombing of Darwin and aftermath February-March 1942]

Victor Ernest Montague Tuckerman

Victor Ernest Montague Tuckerman, known as Monty, was born in Drummoyne, Sydney, in 1917, and joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1936.  He was a “Stores Vittler” (responsible for ordering and storing of food for the ship) in HMAS Australia, Albatross, and Warnambool, in the Middle East, Darwin, and Dutch East Indies. He took along a moving film camera, and rolls of 8mm colour film, to document aspects of life at sea – his ship mates, loading fresh fruit aboard, fishing, evacuating civilians from islands in the enemy’s path and many tropical sunsets.

It was during his second posting to HMAS Warnambool in 1942, that Monty witnessed the February 19 air raid over Darwin’s harbour. In his oral history he described the sinking of the USS Peary as "the worst sight he'd ever seen". Monty wasn’t sure he should film the destruction, but then, he wasn’t expecting to survive the event. Luckily for Warnambool’s crew, none aboard were injured, and Monty went on to help rescue of crews from burning ships in the harbour.

Monty was interviewed in 2007 by retired RAN veteran by James McDonald, and his daughter Sue donated his home movies to the Memorial in 2012.

Script and voiceover by Stephanie Boyle, Senior Curator Film and Sound

Video production by Stephen Toaldo, Manager Production

Oral history AWM S04345

Film AWM F11775


1942. War reaches Australia's doorstep. A young Petty Officer, Monty Tuckerman, grabs his film camera and records the bombing of Darwin's harbour.

"I grabbed my camera and that's what I did, I went and start filming, you know. There was nothing else I could do."

Two hundred and fifty-two Allied service personnel and locals lose their lives.

"You saw what happened, you know, no wonder there wasn't many survivors. The whole ship exploded."

In the succeeding months both Western Australia and the Northern Territory come under heavy air attack. 

"Neptunia, which was tied up at the wharf blows up like an atomic bomb."

On February 19 we commemorate the bombing of Darwin. We Will Remember Them.  

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