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Due to Australia's geographic position there were relatively few attacks on Australia during World War II. Axis surface raiders and submarines periodically attacked shipping in Australian waters from 1940 to early 1945 and Japanese aircraft bombed towns and airfields in Northern Australia on 97 occasions during 1942 and 1943.

Naval attacksEdit

Six German surface raiders operated in Australian waters at different times between 1940 and 1943. These ships sank a small number of merchant ships and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney. The German submarine U-862 also carried out attacks in Australian waters in late 1944 and early 1945.

Japanese submarines operated in Australian waters from January 1942 until July 1944. Major submarine offensives were carried out against shipping off the Australian east coast from May to July 1942 and January to July 1943. A small Japanese reconnaissance party also briefly landed in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in January 1944.

On the evening of the 31st May/morning of the 1st June 1942, Sydney harbour came under direct attack from Japanese midget submarines. HMAS Kuttabul, a converted ferry being used as a troop sleeper, was hit and sunk. 22 sailors were killed, 19 Australians and 2 members of the Royal Navy.

Air attacksEdit

The first air raid on Australia occurred on 19 February 1942 when Darwin was attacked by 242 Japanese aircraft. Occasional attacks on northern Australian towns and airfields continued until November 1943.


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