Friday, 23 March 2012

Commemorate war time in Katherine

Yesterday there was a special ceremony to celebrate that it is 70 years since Katherine was bombed in World War II.

Katherine is approximately 350 kilometres south of Darwin. 
On 21 March 1942 a Japanese reconnaissance plane was spotted flying over Pine Creek and Katherine. 
On 22 March 1942 nine Japanese Mitsubishi bombers, belonging to the Japanese navy, flew over Katherine at 12.20. They returned about 15 minutes later and began their bombing raid. Ninety bombs were dropped, most of them on the Katherine airfield. 

Only one person was killed, but several were injured. 

Several bombs were dropped on bridges cutting access to Darwin. Other bombs fell on a site near the airstrip which was scattered with large boulders resembling heavy equipment.

This photo was taken on the day of the bombing raid.
It shows a group of Australian soldiers who were working on one of the bridges that day.
It was quite hot weather.

At the time Katherine was a busy place with two large hospitals catering to the military forces. Many civilians had evacuated from Darwin to Katherine. People had dug trenches in their gardens and practices were held so that in case of attack the people would know what to do. Residents were accustomed to the sound of the air raid siren. But in the Aussie tradition, that did not fall into place for this event. It was a Sunday and the air raid siren operator was having a day off. No replacement. When the planes were spotted most people just ran into the bush instead of using the trenches. 

No survivors were present at the ceremony. The daughter of the killed man was present but she had not been in Katherine at the time of the raid.

This shows a bomb crater near one of the hospitals. Close but not close enough to be effective.

This was the most southern Japanese bombing raid in the Northern Territory during World War II.  The fuel load of the planes that took part in the raid determined the range. 

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