Memory of Japanese submariners recognised in the Top End

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Max Logan (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin Cenotaph, NT

Topic(s): Naval Heritage and History, HMAS Deloraine

His Excellency Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison, MP, prepare to lay wreaths at the cenotaph in Darwin, Northern Territory. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
His Excellency Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison, MP, prepare to lay wreaths at the cenotaph in Darwin, Northern Territory.

During a recent visit to the Top End, His Excellency Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan visited a site of naval wartime significance.

A commemorative plaque located above Casuarina Beach honours 80 Japanese men who were killed when the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine I-124 was sunk by RAN warship HMAS Deloraine during WWII.

I-124 was the first submarine sunk in Australian waters.

Senior ADF officers and government officials gathered during a ceremony as Prime Minister Abe laid a wreath at the site to honour the lives lost.

Military historian, Doctor Tom Lewis, OAM said the sinking of I-124 occurred before the well-documented Bombing of Darwin in 1942 and was a lesser-known action.

“Now there is a commemorative plaque that tells the story,” Dr Lewis said.

“One of the four boats of the Sixth Submarine Division that attacked shipping and laid mines outside the port in the early months of the Pacific War, the I-124 was sunk in deep water outside the harbour, where her wreck remains sealed and intact today.

“The sinking was followed by two attempts to raise the submarine, and several controversies, before the wreck was protected by the formation of the Australian Historic Shipwrecks Act of 1976.”

The Australian-Japanese Association worked together on a two year project with both the Australian federal and territory governments to establish the plaque.

During the visit to Darwin, Prime Minister Abe also joined Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison to lay wreaths at the Darwin Cenotaph for those killed during the Bombing of Darwin in 1942.