ONE MAN'S PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THE FIRST DARWIN AIR RAIDS

On the morning of Thursday, 19 February 1942, Petty Officer Frank Bowen was engaged in his usual duties on Darwin's anti-submarine defences when Japanese warplanes attacked the town and its harbour which was crowded with forty-four Allied merchant and naval ships. It was the first of sixty Japanese air raids on the small northern town between February 1942 and November 1943. In addition to his anti-submarine duties, Petty Officer Bowen acted as an official navy photographer and always kept his camera handy. This prudent habit enabled him to record some photographs of the first Japanese air attacks on the Australian mainland which have not been published widely. This selection was kindly provided by Frank Bowen's niece Ms Carole Cassidy.

Darwin harbour was crowded with Allied shipping on 19 February 1942. The approaching tropical storm can perhaps be viewed as a portent of the storm of death and destruction which Japanese warplanes would soon unleash on this small town.

l THE MAIN WHARF AND HARBOUR

l THE TOWN

 

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