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The Darwin Civilian War

 During the war the civilian population of Darwin suffered great hardship and dislocation. The Government ordered the evacuation of around 1,500 women and children before the first Japanese air raid.  Most Aborigines were relocated to distant settlements or to Delissaville (Belyuen), across Darwin harbour.  Some civilians remained to maintain essential services and Darwin effectively became a military base. By April 1942, there were over 14,000 military personnel in the Territory, peaking at 64,000 in 1944.

Numerous aerial attacks on Darwin and subsequent military appropriation caused irreparable damage to many buildings. Most of Darwin’s houses were lost and Chinatown burnt down in 1943. Some buildings survived including

the two bank buildings on the corner of Smith Street and Bennett Street.

The war ended in August 1945, however not until February 1946 were civilians officially permitted to return. The military ran Darwin for several more months and civilians lived in abandoned military camps with commodities in short supply.  

The war had changed Darwin forever. A new Darwin was planned, but the people preferred the design of the old town. The people rallied, rebuilding their town upon the strong cross-cultural foundations that make the Darwin of today.        


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