This is an Australian war story!
When visiting Darwin in 2010 I took the bus tour which highlighted the bombing of Darwin during February 1942. Subsequently, I was most interested in an article that appeared in the Darwin News. One side of politics was castigating the other side of politics regarding the issue of a master plan for the city.
However, it wasn't that controversy that interested me, but rather, the master plan that the military had in place in the lead up to 1942.
The Australian Government was aware that war was coming to the nation and recognised that Darwin was one of the major gateways should there be an invasion.
The Japanese on the other hand had recently (7 December 1941) dealt with Pearl Harbour and were streaming down through south east Asia, undecided as to whether Australia should be invaded. The Japanese Army and Navy were far from having a united view but were agreed on a strategic aim of taking Port Moresby (PNG).
They were of one mind however that Darwin needed to be knocked out as a military and air force base from which the US military could launch land, sea and air attacks.
In this sense, Darwin was seen as a major target for the Japanese, and they saw three specific areas that required constant demolition, and therefore the need for regular air raids.
First, Darwin's port and shipping facilities needed to be destroyed and any attempt to reconstruct, killed off.
Second, Darwin's infrastructure needed to be destroyed and constantly laid waste.
And third, the air strips in northern Australia needed to be incapacitated.
Herein was one of the problems the Japanese faced, in that a bare air strip could be constructed in the Australian bush within a few hours. There was no shortage of land. Many bulldozers and graders were bought to the north as part of northern Australia's protection plan in 1941; and by 1942 there were air strips from Katherine to Darwin in a broad semi-circle. These were frequently bombed in 1942-'43.
The Japanese underestimated how difficult it was to achieve these strategic aims as the Northern Territory is so vast. The solid advantage was with the Australian defences. The Japanese bombed on 64 occasions and yet the overall damage proved strategically minimal. (The tragedy of civilian casualties in Darwin notwithstanding).
This was one of the reasons the initial bombing destruction was kept under wraps, because the authorities realised that strategically, they still retained the upper hand and wanted to keep this information close to their chest.
It was from northern Australian 'war time' air strips that the longest USAF WWII bombing raids were made on the Japanese; north to the Philippines and the Japanese southern islands beyond.
Yes, there was something of a master plan for the defence of northern Australia and in particular Darwin, but when Darwin was bombed on the 19 February 1942, and with communications destroyed, it took more than a few days to get co-ordination back in order.
Master plans are good and necessary. Strategies are required for when contingencies go awry.
We might even say as Christians, that the Salvation of Jesus Christ is the eternal Master plan.
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 44 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 44 years with 4 children and 5 grand children