MUA marks 81 years since Bombing of Darwin

Published: 19 Feb 2023

MUA marks 81 years since Bombing of Darwin during World War II

The Maritime Union of Australia's Northern Territory turned out in force this weekend to mark 81 years since the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese during World War II, and to mark and remember the sacrifice of maritime workers killed on Australian soil in service to their community.

The annual Bombing of Darwin memorial day remains a significant day in the calendar of the MUA's NT branch and an important day of reflection and remembrance for all Darwin residents.

The bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 remains the largest single attack by a foreign power on Australian soil, with more than 240 Japanese aircraft -- in two separate raids -- attacking Darwin Harbour and the town's two airfields.

Maritime and waterside workers are often at the forefront of international conflict owing to their exposure to wartime action at places of international strategic importance. 

Twenty three known waterside workers were killed during the attack, and the MUA recognises the service and sacrifice of these workers and their families each year in February.

The bombings also resulted in the deaths of almost 250 seafarers aboard merchant vessels and allied navy ships berthed in Darwin Harbour.

One in eight Australian merchant seafarers sacrificed their lives during World War II — a casualty rate that was higher than those suffered by any of the Australian armed forces — in an effort to maintain supplies of goods and materials vital for the war effort.

This history of service and sacrifice by waterside workers and seafarers is why the Maritime Union continues to campaign for a strategic force of Australian flagged vessels, working in the national interest, so that during times of conflict or natural disaster the unique skill and position of these workers can be depended upon into the future by all Australians.

The Union has been sounding the alarm to government, industry and the community for the past ten years as Australian flagged vessels are replaced by foreign flagged ships operating under Temporary Licences around our coastline. The Australian merchant fleet is now down to just 12 Australian flagged vessels, leaving us without strategically significant shipping and transport capacity during times of crisis.

In attendance at the Memorial were a number of representatives from the Northern Territory Government, including Ngaree Ah Kit MLA, Kate Worden MLA and Joel Bowden MLA.

The Union also thanks bugler Brian Manning Jr for another beautiful rendition of The Last Post.


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney