On Sunday morning, we sailed through Albany passage, between the tip of the mainland and Albany Island.
A tug boat came alongside to nudge the boat into dock at Horn Island, where most of the cargo would be unloaded.
Like many on the trip, I had heard of Thursday Island, which would be our next destination, and had always considered it to be much larger than Horn island. That isn’t the fact, Horn island has an area of 53 square kilometers, compared to a minute 3.5 square kilometers for Thursday Island. The next surprise was the population comparison: Horn island has about 900 inhabitants, while around 3,500 people crowd onto Thursday Island.
During WWII, Horn Island was the site of a large Australian and American army and air force base, with about 5000 troops located there by the end of 1942.
It’s not well known that parts of Australia were attacked by Japanese bombers, with Darwin being the first to suffer, with the first of 64 attacks on 19 February, and the last in November 1943.
What is even less known is that Horn island was the second Australian site to receive the attention of the Japanese, when on March 14, 1942, Japanese fighter planes targeted Horn Island as part of their campaign to cripple military positions in northern Australia. The Japanese raids on Horn Island in World War II barely rate a mention in Australia’s history books.
It is possible to see the wreckage of many planes, the remains of slit trenches that were dug, gun emplacements, ammunition pits and dispersal bays to hide aircraft from the enemy.
I noticed this advertisement just before we left for the tour of Horn Island.
We were a hot, sweaty lot when we got back to the ship. The showers worked overtime that evening. And, the bar did a roaring trade in icy cold beer.