The Port Hedland community has commemorated the 80th anniversary of the attack which killed Private John Adams and brought the war to the Pilbara. On July 30, 1942 about 7am in the space of 15 minutes Japanese forces dropped about 54 bombs on the small town, which had a population of about 640 at the time, in three waves. The target was the town’s airfield, the No.78 Operation Base Unit, now the site of the Port Hedland International Airport. Each plane carried six high-explosive 60kg bombs along with a payload of additional incendiary and anti-personnel bombs. Private John Adams, 19, was a member of the 29th Garrison Battalion and on duty at the aerodrome when the attack occurred. He sought cover but was killed by shrapnel and is buried at the war cemetery in Geraldton. Speaking to the North West Telegraph in 2017, Historic Society’s Julie Arif said Private Adams was killed by shrapnel from a daisy cutter bomb, which fatally struck his head. “He was the only West Australian soldier killed on West Australian soil,” she said. After the attack Radio Tokyo reported the Japanese High Command saw significance in the first raid on Port Hedland, describing it as “a success in disrupting Allied morale”. There were two subsequent air raids on Port Hedland, the second on August 17 of the same year and again on August 16, 1943. Mayor Peter Carter said it was important to reflect and commemorate the town’s history.“The 80th Anniversary of the bombing of Port Hedland is a time for us all to pause, reflect and commemorate the sacrifices made by Australia’s defence forces throughout our town’s history,” he said.“We must forever remember and appreciate the bravery of those such as Private Adams, who make the freedoms we enjoy today possible.“The events of July 1942 shaped the trajectory of our town and forms an integral part of our history.” A booklet documenting Port Hedland’s preparations for invasion, and the reaction to the bombing and subsequent loss of Private Adams has been produced by the Port Hedland Visitors Centre.