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.
On 16 February 2007, Darwin City Council put out a press release stating that Council had a copy of the film thanks to funding assistance from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs under a Victory in the Pacific Grant. Their copy evidently came from the Australian War Memorial for the use of film footage with involvement of the NT library.
In the Australian War Memorial 2011-2012 Annual Report it is stated that their donation was the ‘Darwin raid and other home movies, shot by former Able Seaman Monty Tuckerman. This donation, consisting of 600 feet (approximately one hour) of 8-millimetre colour footage, includes film shot during the Japanese raid on Darwin in February 1942 from the deck of HMAS Warnambool, moored in Darwin’s harbour’
Monty was a stores officer onboard the corvette HMAS Warnabool which was moored in Darwin Harbour and endured the first Japanese raid on Darwin and Australia around 10am on 19 February 1942. Monty without a weapon grabbed his camera and filmed the action and aftermath of the raid.
The camera is a Keystone 8mm movie camera circa 1938 made in Boston USA with serial number 902515 . It was donated subsequent to Monty’s visit as a guest speaker to Darwin for Bombing of Darwin commemorations in 2006.
Monty’s full name was Victor Ernest Tuckerman and his service number was 21164. He was born on 24 May 1917 and enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy on 10 August 1936 and 1 September 1948 with the rank of Stores Chief Petty Officer (information via WW2 Nominal Roll on-line).
Listen to Monty describing the filming here.