Bombing of Darwin – the First Air Raids

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This is the only colour video footage of the first air-raids on Darwin. The photographer was Monty Tuckerman. Monty was a junior officer on HMAS Warnambool in Darwin Harbour on 19 February 1942 . Unable to elevate the ship’s 5-inch gun to fire at the attacking aircraft, he was unable to participate in any defensive action so he started filming with his 8 mm colour movie camera.

From Monty’s ABC interview with Melinda James:
“The most traumatic sight I’ve ever seen, bodies, bits of ship, everything. So that’s when I went down and grabbed my movie camera, and from then on I filmed much of what was going on in the Harbour, when I could. Many a time I had to duck for cover, I thought we were next on the list…It was against rules and regulations to take shots of anything to do with the war….From what I saw after this Pirrie blew up I thought it might have been my last day on earth. I wasn’t worried much about rules and regulations.”

Due to wartime censorship, the film was confiscated and was not seen by the public until about 10 years ago.

Monty agreed to donate the original movie camera, which still works, to the AHSNT and also provided copies of the colour film for use by the society.

He presented the movie camera to the museum in 2006. The camera as well as this movie are displayed at the Museum. The footage is unique and is a very valuable part of our wartime heritage.

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