On the 19 February 1942 Australia was brutilly7 attacked by the Japanese. This was only 5 days after the fall of Singapore to Japanese hands.
Japan attacked Darwin with a series of dive bombing kittyhawk planes in a surprise attempt to weaken the Australian forces. The two attacks, which were planned and led by the commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour ten weeks earlier The first raid involved was 93 Japanese planes mostly aiming at the city and harbour. The second raid at about midday had 54 Japanese planes attacking Darwin's RAAF bases. In both raids, 243 people were killed and more then 300 were wounded. Most of the wounded and dead were civilians.
The ships and the airfields at Darwin were the Japanese targets. Darwin could have been a potential base were the allies (Australians) could launch a counter attack on Japan. Once the airfields and ships were destroyed Japan had a better chance of capturing New Guinea and then take over Australia.
However the efforts of Australian troops on the Kokoda trail ceased the invasion of New Guinea and Australia.
Damage to the town of Darwin was extensive. Many of the buildings in the city were bombed, ships in the harbour were sunk or severely damaged and even a hospital ship was destroyed. Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, 8 ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed. Servicemen and civilians panicked and tried to get away from Darwin. Approximately half Darwin's civilian population ultimately fled. In an attempt to stop the panic and destroy the Australian moral, having just lost Singapore to the Japanese reports of the Darwin bombing was altered in the news papers saying that 11 people were killed. The real truth...