SINKING OF THE SHIP "M.V. BRITISH MOTORIST"
IN DARWIN HARBOUR ON 19 FEBRUARY 1942
DURING A JAPANESE AIR ATTACK ON DARWIN

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The 6, 891 tons English tanker "M.V. British Motorist" was attacked by Japanese aircraft as it laid at anchor in Darwin Harbour in the Northern Territory on 19 February 1942. This was the first major air raid on Darwin. It was followed by another air raid later that same day.

It received two direct bomb hits and caught fire. It sank very quickly and listed heavily to port. The side of the ship was clearly visible at low tide. Two men were killed in this incident as follows:-

Bates, Gilbert Chase - Master, NKG, UK Merchant Navy, 37 years old, from Minster, Kent, UK

Webster, James Henry - 2nd Radio Operator, NKG, UK Merchant Navy, 17 years old, from Wallasey, Cheshire, UK

The hull was raised during a salvage operation in 1960. The section of the ship containing the engine room still remains. The salvage team welded two sections of the recovered hull together. They lived on board this makeshift vessel and used it to stow scrap metal recovered in the other salvage operations. The makeshift vessel was towed back to Japan and broken up for scrap metal. 

The remains of the "M.V. British Motorist"  lay near the remains of "Zealandia" near Darwin's main wharves.

 

REFERENCES

Roll of Honour - Northern Territory Library

"Wrecks in Darwin Waters"
by Tom Lewis

"A War at Home"
by Tom Lewis
Published by Tall Stories, Darwin, ISBN 0 9577351 0 3

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Richards and Greg Guthrie for his assistance with this web page.

I'd like to thank John Richards for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 11 February 2002

This page last updated 23 October 2015