“Darwin had (already) been attacked from the air, and we were in no doubt that Australia was vulnerable,” he wrote in a blog post published by Mosman Library, “but to experience an attack so close to home removed any doubt.”
“From the window of our house, we witnessed tracer shells fired from the USS Chicago. At the time, we had no idea what was happening.”
One newspaper report describes “hysterical women” screaming as the ack-ack of machine guns and flashes of light pierced suburban streets that had been plunged into darkness.
“In Mosman and Cremorne, hundreds of people wearing dressing gowns and overcoats streamed into the streets to be escorted to shelters,” it says.
Another describes residents crowding onto verandas to watch the deadly fireworks, with their “glowing cigarettes making pinpricks in the night”.
In his bestselling book “Mosman – A History”, author Gavin Souter describes the incredible battle scene played out, as Allied ships hunted down the M-24.
“The harbour became a son et Lumiere of shells, depth charges, pom poms, searchlights, flares and smoke, which many residents took for a Japanese air raid,” he writes, “Mosman could fairly be said to have been right on the front line.”