March and April 1942 saw the arrival in the Darwin area of the USAAF and RAAF Squadrons to carry out offensive missions over the Japanese-held Netherlands East Indies. Newly developed Radio Direction Finding (RDF, later Radar) facilities were established in the Darwin area providing valuable early warning for the defences.
By late 1942 Australian forces had consolidated and were able to take over a number of roles previously fulfilled by the US forces. US heavy bomber groups continued their long-range raids on Japanese-held positions in the islands, operating from Batchelor, Fenton and Manbulloo airfields.
The Australian and US navies set up operational facilities in Darwin, using civic buildings as headquarters, workshops and administrative centres, while an explosives storage facility was constructed at Frances Bay. At Snake Creek near Adelaide River the development of a huge naval armament storage depot was commenced.
Prime Minister Curtin
Only two things now stand between us and the overthrow of everything that we have, and of everything that we ever might hope to have. Those two things are: the heroism and fighting prowess of the men who go forward to battle, and the industry, zeal and devotion of the men and women who remain behind.
Allied successes during 1943-44 saw the desperate pace of activities slow as the tide of war moved northward. The war ended abruptly with the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered unconditionally on 14 August 1945. Almost immediately a dramatic withdrawal of military forces began and the civilian population of Darwin and the Top End gradually drifted back to shattered homes and businesses.
Throughout the Territory the abandoned military buildings, stores and vehicles at camps, airfields and depots were disposed of in post-war auction sales and the materials and equipment were removed. Literally thousands of military sites were stripped of useable materials leaving the concrete slabs and foundations, access roads and taxi-ways, grease traps and drains, gun positions and magazines, and the many other reminders of World War II that contribute to the rich tapestry of the Territory’s heritage.