Final salvo for Naval officer

Published on Dr Tom Lewis (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Brisbane,QLD

A naval officer who may have brought down the Zero fighter which crash-landed on Melville Island on 19 February 1942 has died in Brisbane.
 (photo: Unknown)
A naval officer who may have brought down the Zero fighter which crash-landed on Melville Island on 19 February 1942 has died in Brisbane.

A naval officer who may have brought down the Japanese Zero fighter which crash-landed on Melville Island on 19 February 1942 has died in Brisbane.

Lieutenant Frederick Sydney Sharp, known as Syd, was stationed at East Point on the Port War Signal Station facility which checked shipping in and out of the harbour, during the first air raid on Darwin.

He was in an ideal position to take a shot with his rifle at low-flying Zeroes as they exited the area on their way back to the four aircraft carriers which had launched the raid.

When two Zero fighters appeared he fired.

"The first one I wasn't quite ready for but, by gee, I was for the second one," Mr Sharp said.

"I'm certain to this day that I hit it."

A bullet from a .303 rifle was recovered from the wreckage of the Zero which was crash-landed by Petty Officer Toyoshima. The pilot was later captured by Matthias Ulungara, to whom a statue is being dedicated.

Toyoshima was one of the leaders of the famous mass breakout of Cowra Prisoner of War Camp and died in the attempted escape.

In Darwin, with a lack of supplies, Sharp and other personnel relied on local resources for food including shooting wildlife and constructing a substantial fishing net to take advantage of the large tidal flows.

During his career, Syd also flew with RAAF Lockheed Hudson and USAAF Mitchell bombers as a naval observer over the Timor Sea.

Post-war Syd remained in the Navy as a Reservist and worked in the insurance industry. He was a keen yachtsman who sailed in the Sydney to Hobart race.

Northern Territory Chief Minister, Adam Giles, said the story of Sharp and the Zero added yet another facet to the newly-found information being uncovered by The Territory Remembers project, which is commemorating 75 years since that first bombing.

“There are so many heroes, and so many stories”, Mr Giles said.


“The statue of Matthias is a great focal point showing how people across Australia came together to protect the nation.”

The wreck of Toyoshima’s Zero can still be seen at Darwin’s Aviation Heritage Centre on the Stuart Highway.