Direct Hit

The Bombing of Darwin Post Office

By Brett Bowden

On Thursday, February 19, 1942 at 9.58am, 188 Japanese fighters, bombers, and dive bombers launched the first of more than 60 air raids on Darwin in Northern Australia. Although most Australians know there were bombing raids, the impact and devastation is not always realized. The direct hit on the Darwin Post Office and adjoining Telegraph buildings was a devastating blow to Darwin and Australia's lines of communication. The Overland Telegraph met the undersea cable which linked Australia to the rest of the world. Nearly all women and children had been evacuated from Darwin, but among those remaining were the Postmaster, his wife, their daughter, and four telephonists: Emily Florence Young, sisters Eileen, Jean Mullen, and Freda Stasinowsky. A direct hit killed them outright, as well as Arthur Wellington and Archibald Halls, and mortally wounded Walter Rowling. All were staff of the Post Master General. Using a salvaged Morse key and sounder from the badly damaged store attached to the Post Office, a hook up into the Overland Telegraph was improvised and news of the attack was tapped out. Using primary source material we are shown the bravery and resourcefulness of the remaining PMG staff and other civilians working in the most difficult conditions. The aftermath of the bombing raids is chronicled here, with a chapter on the ten people killed. The difficulties and hardships encountered and overcome to ensure the lines of communication remained open are described. Appendices list the Japanese Raids on the Australian Mainland, the Air Raids on Darwin and Surrounds, PMG Staff in Darwin on February 19, 1942 Telegraph Staff, Telephone Staff, and Postal Staff. The site of the old Darwin Post Office is now the home of the Northern Territory's Parliament House. [Subject: Military History, Australian Studies]


Publication Date: 6/16/2016
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781925078848