Today Senator David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, attended a memorial service at the HMAS Kuttabul Memorial on Garden Island to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Sydney Harbour by Japanese midget submarines.
“Today we honour the memory of the 19 Royal Australian Navy and two Royal Navy sailors who died when the converted ferry Kuttabul, was struck by a torpedo in the early hours of 1 June 1942, sinking shortly afterwards. We also pay our respects to the Japanese submarines who lost their lives in the attack,” said Senator Feeney.
“We are reminded of the courage and dedication military personnel from all nations demonstrated during the dark days of World War II. Australians are also immensely proud of the personnel who set an outstanding example of respect and compassion by caring for the bodies of the four deceased Japanese submariners,” said Senator Feeney.
During the attack, the Japanese midget submarine, M24, fired two torpedoes. Both were aimed at the United States heavy cruiser USS Chicago, which was moored off Garden Island.
One torpedo ran aground on the beach at Garden Island, while the second passed ahead of Chicago and under Dutch submarine K9, also moored off Garden Island, before detonating against the sea wall where Kuttabul was berthed. Kuttabul’s wooden hull was no match for the force of the explosion, which killed 21 of those on board.
The name ‘Kuttabul’ was passed onto the Navy base at Potts Point, which administers Garden Island, in memory of the attack. Since 1942, the Royal Australian Navy has held a service to commemorate all who died.Two of the three Japanese midget submarines that attacked Sydney Harbour were destroyed. The bodies of four Japanese submariners were recovered. They were given funerals with full military honours, before their bodies were cremated and their ashes returned to Japan.
The fate of the last submarine remained a mystery until 2006, when a group of recreational divers located its wreckage approximately 5km off Bungan Head, Sydney.
The mid section of Japanese submarine M22 is on display at the Navy Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney.
Media Contact: Senator Feeney’s office - Dimity Paul 0477 334 324