Written by Norman Cramp, Director Darwin Military Museum
The flag was being flown by Number 12 Squadron RAAF over RAAF Base Darwin on the 19th February 1942 when the Japanese raided the town, and Australia, for the first time.
This Australian national flag is only one of two such flags that survived the first raids, the other being the flag that flew over ‘Government House’, the Administrator’s residence, on that fateful day.
‘Our’ flag is considered to be the second flag damaged in the raids on the basis that the town was heavily attacked in the first raid at 10am which more than likely saw the ‘Administrator’s flag’ damaged in that raid.
The second raid, at 12noon, on the 19th attacked the airstrip and surrounding areas. As ‘our’ flag was flying at the RAAF Base at that time, it is considered it was damaged in the second raid, but nonetheless it is of significant importance to Darwin, the NT and Australia’s wartime history.
The badly battle-damaged No: 12 Squadron flag was rescued by members of the Squadron immediately after the second raid and was kept in safekeeping for over 70 years by members of the Darwin Defenders Association. Sadly, the Association has folded now and, as a result, the flag was presented firstly to the City of Darwin Council and then to the Darwin Military Museum by the City Council for display at the Museum at East Point.
The flag is on proud display in the Australians Under Arms display area of the Darwin Military Museum a lastly memorial to what happened in this city over 75 years ago.