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Audio Ric Havyatt describes bomb disposal work in Darwin, 2008

TLF ID R9012

This is an edited sound recording of Ric Havyatt, former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomb disposal officer during the Second World War (1939-45), describing the way Japanese planes bombed Darwin in the Northern Territory in 1942-43, and how some bombs did not explode, as designed, on impact. He tells how some unexploded bombs landed on their sides, while others went nose-first 2-4 m underground from where they had to be dug up. The recording was made in April 2008 and lasts for 2 minutes 16 seconds.




Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives a sense of intensity of the 64 Japanese air raids on Darwin in 1942-43. Havyatt (1917-) explains how Japanese planes flew in formations of 27 planes and dropped about 300 bombs per raid, four or five of which would not explode as they were designed to do when they hit the ground.
  • The recording gives a first-hand account of the work of a bomb disposal squad. Members of such squads are specially trained to locate unexploded bombs and then to ensure they will not explode accidentally. Usually unexploded bombs would be taken to a safe area, then destroyed in a controlled explosion.
  • In this recording Havyatt tells how the bombs dropped on Darwin that did not explode were 'relatively safe' to handle because they did not have time-delay fuses and because there had been a failure of the mechanism that was supposed to 'arm' them in flight - that is, to prepare them to explode on impact with the ground. The RAAF's No 6 Bomb Disposal Squad, which Havyatt commanded, suffered no casualties during its time in Darwin.
  • Havyatt tells how unexploded bombs that landed on their sides were easy to find and deal with, but others went 2-4 m underground from where they had to be dug up. He outlines the difficulty of finding relatively small holes where they had entered the ground, for example, in bush areas alongside airfields.
  • When the Japanese bombed Darwin on 19 February 1942 it was the first time mainland Australia had come under attack. Two air raids that day, an hour apart, killed more than 240 people and wounded 300-400 others. The two raids destroyed 20 planes and 8 ships, as well as civil and military targets in the city. Casualties were lower in later Japanese raids on Darwin (and some other towns in northern Australia), which continued until November 1943.
Year level

7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

Contributors
  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Ric Havyatt
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.