The Story of Port Darwin *** War Plans and Files of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet Running Estimate and Summary maintained by Captain James M. Steele, USN, CINCPAC staff at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, covering the period 7 December 1941 –31 August 1942. Declassified 3 May 1972. February 20, 1942 All signs point to continued concentration of the enemy on the job at hand, namely the conquest of the Malay Barrier (now Java, as he is on Sumatra, Bali and Timor). The great question is whether he will continue after Australia and New Zealand or will he first consolidate the N.E.I. It is the estimate of the War Plans section that he will soon try to capture Port Darwin and Port Moresby at least. February 21, 1942 A discussion was held as to what was probably making up in regard to the employment of large fleet forces in the Australian-New Zealand Area. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that such supply and repair (no drydock for carrier or battleship) and because of the resulting exposure of U.S. territory to attack. However, that area is the one in which our forces will meet advancing enemy forces, and we may be forced to make the move due to political or "desperation strategical" considerations. February 26, 1942 Vice Admiral Pye returned from Washington today. The chief and most disturbing report was that no over-all plan has been adopted. We don't know how "all-out" our help is to be to Australia. *** US Army in World War 2 ; The War in the Pacific, Victory in Australia The Occupation of Port Darwin and Broome Things had gone well for the enemy. He had thus far triumphed everywhere and was now ready for his first move onto the Australian mainland. On 2 February Imperial General Headquarters ordered the 4th Fleet and the South Seas Detachment to take Port Darwin and Broome, and at the proper time Port Moresby. Townsville and Cairns was also to be occupied, on a date as yet unspecified, in order, as the instructions put it, "to protect our Southern Resource Area and bring further pressure on Australia."28 On 16 February, after some preliminary discussions, General Horii and Admiral Inouye concluded an agreement for joint operations against Port Darwin and Broome, under the terms of which Navy troops were to take both places and Army troops replace them, freeing the Navy troops for further operations. The landings were to be made before the end of the month, and the Army was to supply the permanent air garrisons for both points when their seizure had been completed.29 The landings were delayed. The U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington and a protecting force of four heavy cruisers and ten destroyers had moved into the area on 20 February with orders to break up the gathering Japanese concentrations at Rabaul in concert with the ANZAC B-17's at Townsville. Japanese reconnaissance detected the Lexington force while it was still some 350 miles from Rabaul. After a running fight which cost the Japanese eighteen bombers, the carrier force ran short of oil and withdrew. The clash with the Lexington force upset the Japanese timetable for the Port Darwin-Broome operation, which, as a result, was postponed to 3 March.30 The forces chosen to make the landings were elements of the 2d Battalion, 144th Infantry for Broome, and for Port Darwin a unit of the South Seas Detachment, a battalion of the Maizruru 2d Special Naval Landing Force accompanied by a naval construction unit of 400 men, and a naval base unit about 1,500 strong which with the balance of the 144th Infantry troops was to constitute the garrison force. 31 .