Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Broome One Day War

A little history from Glenn and Helen Rex Frazier's library.
Collier’s Photographic History of World War II, P. F. Collier & Son Corporation,
 publishers, New York, Copyright, 1946 by P. F. Collier & Son Corporation, page 69.

 “After Pearl Harbor the Japanese wasted no time in bringing into being their conception of the Greater Japanese Empire. They landed at different points on the island of Luzon and on December 10, 1941, pushed down toward Manila from the north and up from the south, and took the city on January 2, 1942, pressing the American and Philippine forces into Bataan Peninsula. They laid siege to the great base of Hong Kong and captured it on December 25, 1941. Two great ships of the British Navy, the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, were sunk on December 9. On February 15 sixty-nine days after they landed on the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, supposedly the strongest naval base in the world, surrendered, and Britain’s greatest bastion in the Pacific, the symbol of her power in the East and the key to defense of the Southwest Pacific, was lost. With equal speed the Japanese had gone into the Netherlands East Indies, which they completely occupied by March 8, 1942. With these islands, in spite of the “scorched earth” policy of the defenders, they acquired great treasures of oil, rubber, quinine, and other strategic products. From January 15 to May 1, 1942, before the monsoon season set in, the Japanese had raced through Burma, had driven the British troops from the country, and had given Lieutenant General Stilwell’s Chinese and American forces a beating. They thus blocked the Burma Road over which the Allies had supplied China. The Dutch Army garrisoned in the Netherlands Indies, the Dutch Navy, and our gallant little Asiatic Squadron were entirely inadequate to stop the onrush of the Japanese southward.“

Picture from page 70. Smashed B-17s burn on a runway of Andir aerodrome at Bandoeng, Java. This picture taken on Feb. 19, 1942, shows our planes caught and destroyed before they could take off. The Japanese held an almost complete mastery of the air and sea in the South Pacific until the late summer of 1942.

According to the Air Force Historical Research AgencyAFHRA, John Morgan Rex’s 70th Pursuit Squadron was assigned to the US Army Forces in Fiji on January 28, 1942 and participated in the evacuation of Java. 

Just after 9:00 A.M. on March 3, 1942, nine Japanese warplanes and a reconnaissance plane reached the flying boat anchorage at Roebuck Bay, Australia and the RAAF base at Broome, Ausralia Airfield. The enemy planes strafed aircraft on the ground and engaged those in the air, including a USAAF B-24A Liberator full of wounded personnel.

“Several allied machines did manage to get airborne as the attack began. An American Liberator bomber, under the command of Lt. Edson Kester scrambled into the air, but was immediately pounced upon by a Zero piloted by Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo. Despite Kester’s valiant attempts to evade Kudo’s relentless attack, the bomber crashed into the sea some 10 km off Cable Beach, breaking in half on impact. Of the 33 servicemen aboard, many of whom were sick and wounded, all but two were killed in the crash or were drowned. Army surgeon Capt. Charles Stafford was seen trying to help the wounded, but to no avail – he and the others soon slipped beneath the surface and were drowned. Only Sergeants Melvin Donaho and William Beatty managed to get away from the sinking aircraft – but more of them later.” 

"Meanwhile other Zeros had been strafing the bombers and transports on the Broome airstrip, and before long these too were burning furiously, but fortunately there was no loss of life. By co-incidence, a Dutch pilot – Fl. Lt. “Gus” Winckel – had taken a machine gun from his Lockheed Lodestar aircraft and was servicing it when the raid began. 

"Firing from the hip, with the barrel resting over his arm, Winckel managed to hit several of the low-flying enemy fighters, and was successful in shooting down the Zero flown by Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo. The Zero crashed into the sea, and Kudo was killed."

"By 10:30 am all of the Allied aircraft at Broome had been destroyed, and the remaining eight Zeros and the “Babs” headed north to return to their base at Koepang." [1]

Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons

1. Broome's One Day War, The story of the Japanese Raid on Broome, 3rd March 1942, by Mervyn W. Prime, Published by Broome Historical Society, 1992.


  1. You do such a good job with your research. What an interesting book. We recently watched South Pacific and talked about WWII. It changed the world and many many lives.

  2. Thank you Flora Lee. Our mothers were always interested in their brother's story. I thumbed through the pictures in this book as a girl, never realizing then, what it meant to my parents.