Yes, Australia Had Their Own Pearl Harbor (and It Was Worse)

Yes, Australia Had Their Own Pearl Harbor (and It Was Worse)

The Raid at Darwin destroyed fuel, repair, and resupply facilities that the attack on Pearl Harbor did not.

The cost to the defenders of Darwin was 191 killed and more than 400 wounded. About 68 of the dead and injured were civilians. Japanese aircraft losses are in dispute, ranging from two to seven planes, with crew losses totaling seven, of which two were killed, one taken prisoner, and the remainder rescued by friendly forces. Four Japanese aircraft losses, including a Val hit over Darwin that came down in the sea at East Point, a Zero struck over the harbor that crashed on Melville Island, and two divebombers shot out of the sky by Lieutenant Robert Oestreicher, have been verified.

The port of Darwin would later be rebuilt as a major supply depot ringed by numerous new airfields. After the February 19, 1942, raid the Allied navies largely abandoned the Darwin naval base, dispersing their units to Brisbane, Fremantle, and other ports. Darwin would be attacked by Japanese airpower 62 more times between March 1942 and November 1943, the heaviest raid coming on June 16, 1942, when the Japanese inflicted great damage on the harbor oil fuel and railroad yards. However, improved radar along with strengthened antiaircraft and fighter defenses assured that another Australian Pearl Harbor did not occur.

This article by Arnold Blumberg originally appeared on Warfare History Network

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