Japanese Air Raid near Mossman
on 30/31 July 1942

 

Sub Lieutenant Kyoshi Mitzukura left Rabaul to make a bombing raid on Cairns in far north Queensland in an Emily Flying Boat of the 14th KU.

At 0330 hours on 31 July 1942 Mitzukura made an approach on what he thought was Cairns after seeing some lights. Mizukura reported that he dropped eight 250kg bombs on the target. Where most of these 8 bombs fell has never been established.  However one bomb fell that same night on a sugar cane farm near Bamboo Creek at Saltwater, 16 kms from Mossman. It exploded about 50 meters from a galvanised shed owned by Felice Zullo. His two and a half year old daughter Carmela received a wound to the head from shrapnel which pierced their two story house and smashed a number of windows. Carmela was in her cot at the time. Carmela received a secure gash and a fractured skull. Another bomb apparently fell near a Slaughter Yard on the Daintree Road.

Felice Zullo, his wife, baby Carmela and a cousin 13 year old Antoni Peglise were asleep in the house when the bomb dropped. One piece of shrapnel tore the leg off a duchess chest and smashed the strut supporting the wall of the house. Another piece of shrapnel struck the house of an Italian named Scarceffla who lived a quarter of a mile away. Another Italian, Previtera, who lived about a mile away, reported that his house had been severely shaken. A resident who saw the Emily Flying Boat said that it flew off northwards at about 4,000 feet. Other residents reported that there were four explosions, but the authorities were unable to find any other damage.

The bomb left a large crater seven metres across and one metre deep.  A Police party from Cairns led by Inspector P.J. Mullaley, dug up the nose cap of the bomb from the bottom of the crater. Metal fragments from the bomb were found with Japanese markings on them.

Mikukura arrived back at Rabaul at 10.10 am after a 17 hour flight.

The little girl grew up to become Mrs. Carmela Emmi, of Albany Creek in Brisbane, Queensland. She was reported in the Sunday Mail in 1989 as follows:-

"My mother said it was  bright moonlit night and very cold.  She said the blast woke her and she saw I was covered in blood.   She thought I had been killed and started screaming.  I know I'm a unique part of Queensland history, but it's something I could have done without."

Carmela spent 3 months recovering in hospital.  She has been left with a large scar under her hair.

Carmel Emmi unveiled a plaque on a memorial stone on Bamboo Creek Road after the turnoff to Whyanbeel on 31st July 1991. The plaque reads as follows:-

"At 3.30 am on 31st July 1942 a Japanese aircraft dropped eight bombs in this Shire, one landing 50 metres directly behind this point. Carmel Zullo, aged 2 1/2 years was asleep in the home of her parents when the bomb exploded nearby. Shrapnel pierced the iron walls of the house, one fragment grazing Carmel's skull."

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Sub Lieutenant Kiyoshi Mizukura flew an Emily flying boat on two raids against Townsville and another near Mossman

Sub Lieutenant Kiyoshi Mizukura in Japan many years after the war

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Photo:- Stephen Langman

Plaque unveiled by Carmel Emmi on 31 July 1992

 


Photo:- Stephen Langman

Monument and plaque commemorating the location that a Japanese bomb landed

 


Photo:- Stephen Langman

The field where the Japanese bomb exploded

 

Japanese Air Raids in Australia

 

REFERENCES

"The Hidden Chapters, Untold stories of Australians at war in the Pacific"
by Robert Piper

"The Empire Strikes South - Japan's Air War Against Northern Australia 1942-45"
by Dr. Tom Lewis OAM, Illustrated by Michael Claringbould

Maryborough Chronicle, Monday 3 August 1942

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Stephen Langman and Doug Tilley for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 22 October 2000

This page last updated 12 February 2017