photo
Australia's War 1939 - 1945
title

map
Broome



A Dutch crew from a visiting Dornier Do 24 flying boat in Roebuck Bay being taken into Broome by launch in 1941.
[AWM 044613]
One of the Dornier Do 24 flying boats destroyed during the Japanese attack on Broome on 3 March 1942. This wreckage can only be seen during king tides in Roebuck Bay.
[Image courtesy of the Broome Historical Society]

Air raids
Broome
[DVA]

In February 1942, Broome in Western Australia was used as the Australian end of an air shuttle service from Java. Hundreds of evacuees were ferried to Broome in Dutch, American and Australian military and civil aircraft, including flying boats of Qantas Empire Airways.

By the end of that month, the town was overflowing with military personnel and refugees. People slept wherever they could while waiting for a flight to continue their journey south. During the last weeks of February 1942 over 7000 people, including the former commander of the 8th Australian Division, Major-General H Gordon Bennett, who had escaped from Singapore, passed through Broome. On one single day, 57 aircraft landed there.

view
document
‘The maps he made on our luggers... bring Japanese bombers to Broome’
[AWM DRL 1295]

On 3 March 1942, without warning, Japanese fighters attacked. The attack lasted no more than 20 minutes, during which time 25 Allied aircraft were destroyed and dozens of people were killed or wounded. Many victims were Dutch women and children packed into flying boats on the harbour either waiting to be unloaded and ferried ashore or waiting to depart for the southern states. Another 30 crew and passengers, mostly military personnel, were lost when an American Liberator bomber was shot down shortly after taking off. Precisely how many people died in the raid, and who they were, will never be known.

photo
Correspondence, coins and trinkets that were
recovered from the wreckage of the sunken flying
boats can be seen in the Broome museum.
[Courtesy of the Broome Historical Society Museum]

Dozens of people lost their lives during the attack on Broome on 3 March 1942. Many of the Dutch women and children were trapped in flying boats in the harbour. Others were incinerated, drowned or taken by sharks as they attempted to swim ashore. The Dutch bodies recovered were first buried in the Broome War Cemetery but were later removed and reburied in a special area in the Karrakatta cemetery in Perth. Many were not identified and they lie in unmarked graves.

 

 

 

 

Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
Australia at war 3 September 1939
Libya and the Siege of Tobruk 1941
Greece and Crete April-May 1941
Syria and Lebanon June 1941
Malaya December 1941 to Moresby May 1942
Australia under attack 1940-1945
Coral Sea, Kokoda, Milne Bay May-September 1942
El Alamein October-November 1942
The Home Front 1939-1945
The Coastwatchers 1941-1945
Australian prisoners of war 1940-1945
Little-known operations 1939-1945
Papua 1942-1943
The Japanese retreat March 1943-January 1944
War at sea 1939-1945
Air war Europe 1939-1945
Bougainville, Borneo, New Britain, New Guinea 1944-1945
8 May 1945/15 August 1945
One of the Dornier Do 24 flying boats destroyed during the Japanese attack on Broome on 3 March 1942. This wreckage can only be seen during king tides in Roebuck Bay.
[Image courtesy of the Broome Historical Society]
A Dutch crew from a visiting Dornier Do 24 flying boat in Roebuck Bay being taken into Broome by launch in 1941.
[AWM 044613]