ON 20 AND 21 MAY 1943


20 May 1943

Two Japanese aircraft raided the Exmouth Gulf area between 10.55pm and 11.50 pm on 20 May 1943. They were detected by No 314 Radar Station at Onslow and No. 310 Radar Station at Exmouth Gulf and at 10.40pm two Boomerangs from 85 Squadron RAAF were scrambled to intercept them. They failed to find the Japanese aircraft which managed to drop one bomb harmlessly into Exmouth Gulf.

The US Navy had a large Submarine Base at Exmouth Gulf.


21 May 1943

On 21 May 1943 two Japanese aircraft inspected the Exmouth Gulf area under a moonlit night. They were detected by radar heading directly towards Onslow from the north. They turned around to the west and then flew along the eastern shoreline of the North-West Cape and then dropped nine bombs in the gulf area around 250 metres from the shore at about 00:20 hours without causing any damage. This was at a location approximately 3 kilometres north of the camp at the airfield. This was probably No 76 Operational Base Unit (76OBU) camp.

Two Boomerangs from 85 Squadron RAAF were scrambled to intercept the raiders. Flying Officer L. Wettenhall (400109) in one of the Boomerangs saw two exhaust flames at about 3,000 feet below him. He dived to chase them but had to turn back due to a shortage of fuel.

Noel Gray was the senior radar armament artificer in Exmouth Gulf area. He was a member of AEME attached to 3 Aust. Corps within 2nd Aust, Radar Detachment, RAA. He was responsible for installing, calibrating, and maintaining all army radar equipment in the area. 

He remembered being bombed by Japanese "Betties" on several occasions (dates unknown). On one occasion a stick of twelve Japanese bombs fell 50 yards (the furthest) east of their Radar campsite in a line making 30 degrees with the centreline of their camp. Noel Gray was buried on one occasion when his slit-trench wall collapsed. He was rescued by his mates a short time later. When regaining consciousness and after downing a fifth of Scotch the matter was treated as a joke and he did not seem to sustain any permanent injury. The matter was never reported medically on his request as no one else was hurt.



"Air War Against Japan 1943 - 1945"
by George Odgers



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