Having accumulated some local notoriety in Darwin for having my experiences printed here, (Darwin is still a small town) I am now being approached by others to share their stories. This was told to me by our builder last week as he fixed our air conditioner.
The Darwin CBD has been built up and is now accruing a modern set of high rise apartments. First one must understand that Darwin was bombed by the Japanese during WW2 on 19/2/1942, in fact, by the same strike force that bombed Pearl Harbour a few months before on 7/12/1941. Aircraft engines from crashed planes were found in the CBD during recent excavations for new buildings.
This odd event happened to the builder’s father, who now lives in one of the new high rise apartments. He claimed he was awakened in the pre-dawn by the drone of multiple aircraft extremely close to his building and went out on to his balcony to see what it was but he couldn’t see anything. <br />What caught his attention was the timbre of the engine noise, being in his 80′s he is adamant he knows what a WW2 vintage aircraft sounds like (not at all like a Cessna or Piper Cherokee!). Having myself heard a genuine Spitfire Merlin engine take off – their sounds are unique.
He sat back down on his bed a little perplexed and more waves of aircraft seemed to be flying right past his building – he could hear yelling and bangs and gunfire and ran back out onto his balcony thinking perhaps a plane had crashed, but again there was nothing.
Now he started to think was there a television on somewhere and he went about the apartment checking and nothing was on. When the sounds came yet again and this time he heard heavier engined aircraft possible a larger two engined aircraft. He claimed the sound of the planes seemed to be flying right down Smith Street and off toward Cullen Bay – having come in from the wharf area of Darwin.
Walking back out on his balcony and looking off toward Cullen Bay, he believed he could see dim light the silhouette of a cluster of small single propeller driven aircraft flying very low toward Cullen Bay but (now) though he could see them oddly they didn’t appear to be making any noise. To his shock in the moment he registered they looked like Japanese Zeros they went behind a distant high rise and he didn’t see them again to confirm.
Thinking there was some re-enactment of the Darwin bombing going on, he felt a bit sheepish when he mentioned it to others and no one else in the apartments or the rest of town were aware of it or had heard anything.
Needless to say, the Japanese did heavily bomb the Darwin wharf precinct – fly down Smith Street (bombed the then Post Office at the top end of Smith Street) and the American Air Force HQ further along Smith Street (now and Anglican Church) and flew off to Cullen Bay where they bombed the then hospital thinking the ordered buildings were army barracks and the force was made up of twin engined bombers accompanied by Zero escorts.
There was nothing in the news paper the next day to explain the gentleman’s experience and then he found there were no vintage aircraft re-enactments on the day, in fact the bombings are commemorated in February and this was in November.
The old man is adamant about what he heard and now wonders if he “heard” the sounds somehow of the 19/2/1942 bombing of Darwin and glimpsed ghost planes from 1942? Who knows.