JAPANESE BOMBING RAID
NEAR ONSLOW, WA
ON 16 SEPTEMBER 1943
The Operations Record Book for Western Area Headquarters, 85 Squadron RAAF and 315 Radar RAAF, indicated that more than one enemy aircraft flew over Exmouth Gulf and dropped 16 bombs four miles south west of Onslow. These Operations Record Books make no mention of bombs being dropped at Port Hedland.
Western Area Headquarters Operations Record Book
15 Sep 1943 - Two plus enemy aeroplanes were reported over EXMOUTH GULF this evening. The aeroplanes flew north from EXMOUTH GULF and dropped 16 bombs 4 miles South-west of ONSLOW - nil damage or casualties.
85 Squadron RAAF Operations Record Book Entry
15 Sep 1943 - Yellow warning at 2330 hours, 4 Boomerang a/c airborne at 2345 hours and attempted interception of enemy a/c. Pilots F/l WILSON, P/O DENNY, F/Sgt FELGENHAUR, F/Sgt SCHOON, nil sightings. Red warning at 0015 hours, all clear 0130 hours 16/9/43.
310 Radar RAAF Operations Record Book (based at Exmouth Gulf)
15-16 Sep 1943 - An Air Raid "Red" Warning was sounded at 2359 hours, 15th September, 1943. From 3 to 5 hostile aeroplanes approached from the North-East, passed within 9 miles of this unit, and flew over POTSHOT. No bombs were dropped in this area. The raiders then flew to ONSLOW, where they appeared to make 2 bombing runs, and flew North. The "All Clear" was sounded at 0112 hours, 16th September, 1943. In all, the raiders were tracked over a course of 325 miles. The morale of the personnel throughout was excellent, discipline was good, there was no sign of panic, and the drill laid down in STATION STANDING ORDERS was carried out in the proper manner.
314 Radar RAAF Operations Record Book Entry (based at Onslow)
15 Sep 1943 - Enemy Air Raid. Raiders located 75 miles N of Onslow at 2314 hours. Full report sent to Western Area. Plots passed to 11 M.F.S.H.Q. direct by telephone for the first time.
16 Sep 1943 - Enemy Air Raid (continued). Raiders dropped 16 bombs (HE and Incendaries) 4 or 5 miles S.W. of the town. Raiders tracked for 520 miles. Last plot 120 miles North of Onslow at 0218 hours. (Full report sent to Western Area). Unit personnel discovered 8 bomb craters in the afternoon.
17 Sep 1943 - Unit personnel assisted S/L Pennefather in making a report on 16 bomb craters located 4 to 5 miles S. W. of the town.
The book "The Empire Strikes South" states that a single Emily of 851 Ku left Surabaya at 1820 hours on 15 September 1943 armed with ten 60kg bombs and seven unidentified stores. After releasing bombs over Port Hedland, the Emily flew on to Potshot/Exmouth Gulf where it was coned by searchlights and 4 Anti-aircraft Battery (later 140 HAA Battery) fired 27 rounds of Anti-aircraft rounds at it. The Emily dropped bombs from a very high altitude between 0150 to 0210 hours over the target area. There is no mention of bombs being dropped at Port Hedland in the above Operations Record Books.
I'd like to thank Doug Tilley and Graham McKenzie-Smith for their assistance with this web page.
"The Empire Strikes South -
Japan's Air War against Northern Australia 1942-45"
by Dr. Tom Lewis OAM
RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) (Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51) Radar Stations 311 to 315 Jan 43 - Mar 46
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 15 September 2017
This page last updated 16 September 2017