VI8BOD 75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin – 19th Feb 1942



Darwin Amateur Radio Club Northern Territory

VI8BOD Active 0330Z 18th February 2017 to 1630Z 28th March 2017, NT, Australia

Darwin Amateur Radio Club Inc.  Press Release No 1

(PLEASE NOTE – At any time the log on OQRS may not be complete as logs will be incoming from several operators.)

The Event  The 19th February 2017 is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Darwin. The first attack was carried out utilising the Aircraft carrier force which struck Pearl Harbour on the 7th December 1941. A second following aerial attack was carried out by land base bombers from the Dutch East Indies 2 hours later in the same day.

More aircraft attacked Darwin, a greater tonnage of bombs was dropped (but no torpedoes) and more ships, (of lesser aggregate tonnage) were destroyed and loss of life was in the order of 10% of that suffered in Pearl Harbour

The city was virtually destroyed, and defence installations were heavily damaged.

As with Pearl Harbour, advance warning of the attack was given (by the mission on Bathurst Island), but was not acted upon, hence the city was totally unprepared and not aware of the attack until bombs started to hit the town.

There were 46 ships in Darwin Harbour at the time of the first Air Raid. Of these 21 were sunk and a further 2 were sunk off Bathurst Island, one of which was not found until 2008


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Level of interest

There is likely to be high level of interest from the USA, as at least 3 US ships,the Destroyer USS Peary, and transports SS Mona Loa and USAT Meigs were sunk and the USS William B Preston damaged in the first of the 63 air raids on Darwin in the 18 month period following the first raid. The USS Peary remains on the bottom of Darwin Harbor as a designated War Grave. Additionally, 3 British ships were sunk and 2 beached as well as Australian vessels.

DARC has members who are members of the American Radio Relay League, the national body for Amateur Radio in the US, and through these we propose to have the event written up in their monthly publication “QST” before the event. In addition, there were hundreds of thousand US army and US Army Airforce personnel stationed in the Northern Territory following the attack.

The “VI8BOD” call sign will automatically generate widespread interest within Australia and overseas.

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Venue to begin this activity – 19th February 2017 The proposed venue for the start of this event is the “QANTAS” hanger in Parap an inner Darwin suburb which is currently used by the Motor Vehicle Enthusiast Club (MVEC) as a meeting place and vintage vehicle display. The building also houses the IZOD collection of antique machinery.

Three DARC Committee members are members of MVEC, and close communication has resulted in agreement to DARC operating from the venue in conjunction with the celebration of the bombing when the public are invited to the open day Sunday 19th February.2017.

The Parap Hanger prefabricated Sidney Williams building produced as a kit, in man handable components (bolted together on site) for QANTAS in 1934. At that time Qantas was awarded the mail contract from Brisbane to Singapore, linking with the Singapore London service. Limited passengers were carried (8 per aircraft) with 78 take offs and landings over 12 days from Brisbane to London.

The hanger had been requisitioned by the RAAF at the time of the raid and aircraft stored in the hanger were destroyed by a very close bomb explosion and low level strafing. The building still bears “strafing” damage readily visible to visitors. The structure largely remained intact, the corrugated iron sheeting replaced and continued to be used as an aircraft hangar for the duration of the war.

The building suffered superficial damage during Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Eve/day 1974 loosing most of its metal cladding whilst 80+% of Darwin’s residential accommodation was destroyed and the city evacuated. Re sheeted for a second time the hanger again served the Darwin community well.

It is not well known that an Anateur Radio operator got the first word of the Cyclone Tracey outcome to the nation by a radio relay through an amateur Radio station in Malaysia and onto the southern states of Australia on the morning following the event.

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Setup DARC propose to set up an antenna station comprising a Triband beam antenna mounted on a cherry picker at 10 meters, and a 40 m dipole supported from the flag pole for voice communication. Morse code transmissions are proposed from “squid pole” supported vertical antennas at selected locations.

The actual operating station will be within the “public space” open and clearly visible to permit continuous interaction from the public. There will be DARC personnel available to field questions and generate an interest in Amateur Radio from the public.

Radio contact will be able to be established world wide (ionospheric conditions permitting) and be clearly audible to the close by public

The Activity

The slogan

“Get a New Identity”

“become a Radio Amateur”

will be prominently displayed to try to interest the public in making enquiries in regards to joining the Amateur Radio fraternity

On the hour it is proposed to broadcast the warning message in Morse code (as used at the time) received by Darwin at 9:35am from the Mission Station Bathurst Island, before it was strafed by a number of Japanese aircraft.


Followed by an explanation of the message and that morse was the communication method of the day, partly because equipment to transmit voice is more complicated and hence more expensive than that required for morse code.

At other times the station will be seeking and receiving radio calls from Darwin, interstate and international stations wishing to make a contact with the Bombing of Darwin VI8-BOD commemorative station

It is envisaged the station will be on air from Noon Saturday 18th February until 9pm and 6am until 4pm Sunday 19th February, in the Hanger and expected to log many amateur stations both nationally and internationally.

Following the “Main Event”, it is envisaged the Call Sign will be in use for approximately 4 weeks in total by local Darwin Amateur Radio Operators.

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Outcome  The amateur radio presence will be included in public invitations for the residents of Darwin to visit the hangar on the Sunday 19th February

The proposed activity will enhance the awareness of Amateur Radio in general and the Darwin Amateur Radio Club in particular to the visitors of the open day. It will provide an opportunity for visitors to become more aware of the part that radio played in Darwin’s history, particularly the warning of the bombing of Darwin, and alerting the nation to the disastrous outcome of cyclone Tracey in 1974

Additionally, it will give National and International Amateur Radio operators the opportunity to log the station call sign, and bring the city of Darwin into prominence within the amateur Radio fraternity.


The call sign will be active from 0330 GMT on Saturday 18th February 2017 untill 1630 GMT on 28th March 2017

Station Coordinator:   Stuart Birkin VK8NSB


QSL Via M0URX Direct or OQRS

Mr Tim Beaumont VI8BOD
P.O. Box 17
Warwickshire CV8 1SF

Bureau – OQRS ONLY

Please do not send us any bureau cards they will not reach us. Only use OQRS if you need a bureau QSL.

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Tim Beaumont