Radio Tokyo – Radio Australia – News reports – June 14/15, 1942 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
One of the fascinating aspects of reviewing and poring over history is to listen to how an event is covered from different perspectives. In this case, Radio Tokyo’s reports on the operations on Darwin and Port Moresby on the way to Australia and Radio Australia’s account of the attack and its aftermath – two opposing sides, the same event.
As described in the WW2 Database website:
Japanese carriers launched 152 bombers and 36 fighters at 0845 hours. The attack force reached Darwin, Australia at 0958 hours and attacked the port city for the subsequent 42 minutes, sinking US destroyer USS Peary (93 killed, 49 survived), US transport USAT Meigs, merchant ship Zealandia, US merchant ship Mauna Loa, British freighter Neptuna, British tanker British Motorist, and coal storage hulk Kelat. 7 Japanese aircraft were lost in this first raid, while 7 American P-40 fighters were destroyed (4 in combat, 3 on the ground). Later in the day, 54 land-based bombers based in Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies arrived for a second raid, destroying 6 Australian Hudson light bombers, 1 US B-24 Liberator bomber, and 2 US P-40 fighters.
But RAAF staff had either been mostly safe in shelters or deserted their posts, only six men died in this second raid on this first day of Japanese air raids on Darwin. Darwin was to continue suffering Japanese air raids throughout the remainder of 1942 and 1943, the last Japanese raid on Darwin during the war occurred on 12 December 1943. Australian resistance, under-resourced from the RAAF operating in the war against Germany, with air forces occurred in January 1943, when No. 1 Fighter Wing, RAF was moved to the area. Three Spitfire squadrons, 54 RAF based at Darwin, 452 RAAF operating from Strauss, and 457 RAAF based in Livingstone, were involved in major skirmishes with the Japanese on 2 and 15 March 1943. In the most successful raid by the RAAF over Darwin, the Spitfires intercepted a formation of fighters and bombers, shooting down fourteen Japanese aircraft. In this sortie, Group Leader Caldwell shot down his fifth Japanese aircraft.
As you can hear, not all the news is about this attack or the reactions – only scant mentions and vague casualty counts – the rest of the news covers everything from talks to news of celebrations for Flag Day. In the beginning of this recording, the radio fades back and forth between Radio Tokyo and Radio Australia – a little eerie in spots, but Radio Australia wins out for the 1:00 am newscast. Reception is however, a bit dicey in spots. But consider the source and the conditions at the time.
If you had a shortwave radio and you were dial hopping on this day, no doubt this is one of the broadcasts you’d head.