I took this shot at the Adelaide River military graveyard just south of Darwin. I was amazed at the ongoing impact of WW2 on the territory.
Then we went to the Darwin Military Museum and I am so glad we did. My tip in visiting Darwin is the Military Museam and the main Darwin museum's cyclone tracey exhibit. These two museams mark the two landmark events in the history of Darwin.
The military museam was Cathie's idea and I am so glad that she pushed for it. I had absolutely no idea that Darwin was such a world war two hot spot. I knew something went on, knew the hosptial was bombed (we found that out at Mount Isa when we toured their underground hospital which was built because they were concerned about what had happened to Darwin's hospital) and driving up from Tennant Creek there are lots of military airfields and the
But the situation in Darwin was far far worse.
When the war hotted up they evacuated women and children from Darwin leaving a population of 2000 (including only 63 women).
Then in February 1943 the Japanese struck. There was a note at the door of the museum giving the history.
'The devastating bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1943 was one of the most signficant days in Australian history... The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 had horrified the world. on that day, the Japanese used 380 planes to drop 271 bombs and torpedoes, killing over 2000 people. More than twice that firepower was launched against Darwin just two months later.
'On 19 February 1943 343 Japanese planes dropped 683 ombs, a total weight of 114,620 kilograpms of explosies. The 138 Japanese fighters and dive bombers in the first [part of the attack were each armed with four or more machine guns and cannon and about 1000 rounds of ammuntion which they used to strafe anything that moved in to the town and on the harbour. The second wave of 54 eavy bombers destroyed the RAAF airfield.'
The number of people killed in that attack by the Japanese was between 900-1100.
Why isn't this on the tip of my tongue? Why is this not part of my general knowledge?
The museam was organised by Darwin military veterans. It recieves no government support and survives just on the funding recieved by admissions.
The kids are learning lots on this trip and have actually learnt much more than I expected about war. I note that Solomon has written on his blog that he doesn't like Japanese as a result of visiting the museam. We will talk through later about how forgiveness and reconciliation can work on a national scale as it does with one's siblings.
We did read the declaration of Japanese surrender with the kids. But there was nothing at the museam about how post the war relations have been repaired and restored with the government and people of Japan. And I confess that my knowledge of how that came about is also sadly lacking. So I shall need to work that out over the next few days.