BROOME COMMEMORATION

3 March 2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese air raid on Broome in 1942.

As the sign we designed for the occasion explained: "On 3rd March 1942 at 9.30am the town of Broome was taken by surprise when 9 Japanese Zero fighters and a reconnaissance plane attacked and destroyed 22 aircraft including 15 Allied flying boats.

The death toll on that terrible day is estimated at around 88 people – 48 of whom were Dutch civilians. The reason for this tragic loss of noncombatant life is that the flying boats were loaded with Dutch refugees from the Netherlands East Indies at the time of the attack.

Many died trapped aboard the burning aircraft, or else perished while trying to swim ashore. Those bodies of the Dutch refugees that were recovered were initially buried in Broome.

They were later removed and most reburied in a special area in the Karrakatta cemetery in Perth. Many were not identified and lie in unmarked graves.

In recognition of the significance of this event, the display was unveiled by Dutch Ambassador Willem Andreae and WA Premier Colin Barnett. A replica version of the sign was made and placed in the Dutch Embassy in Canberra. (Photo courtesy Leon Mead / Shire of Broome)

Broome air attack commemorative sign (Leon Mead) Broome air raid sign detail