At 7.05am on 3 March 1942, nine Japanese Zero fighters and a reconnaissance plane left Koepang in Timor with instructions to attack military aircraft known to be on the Broome airfield. The pilots were not expecting to find 15 flying boats in Roebuck Bay. By the time the raid was finished, no useable aircraft remained in Broome.
Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo is credited with shooting down a US Liberator plane which managed to take off during the attack.
His own aircraft was then shot down by machine gun fire, disappearing into the sea and killing Kudo.
Another Zero was badly damaged during the raid and forced to ditch during its return to Timor.
When the raid began Dutch pilot Lieutenant ‘Gus’ Winkle was cleaning a machine gun, like this, which he had taken from his aircraft parked on the Broome airfield.
Resting the barrel on his arm, Winkle managed to hit several low flying Zero fighters, including Kudo’s. In the process, he suffered serious burns to his arm.
Donated by Kevin, John & Richard Garstone
Those on the ground, started a formidable exchange of machine gun fire between air and sea.
In fact the records show that six Zeros out of seven that returned to base after the successful raid of the 3rd March were pierced with shot holes.
Takeo Shibata, the Japanese commanding officer, reflecting on the defence of Broome, c. 1978. (Mervyn Prime, Broome’s One Day War, Page 46)
The falling long-range fuel tanks lead some people to mistakenly believe Broome had been bombed during the raid.
I remember that any informations or instructions about the Allied flying boats on the Bay were not given till we found them at the bay of Broome, and our great fruits of battle were beyond expectations.
Yasuo Matsumoto, Zero fighter pilot, July 1978 (Mervyn Prime, Broome’s One Day War, Page 44)