JAPANESE SUBMARINE I-124
IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS DURING WW2

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On 20 January 1942, US Destroyers "Edsall" and "Alden" located Japanese submarine I-124 about 60 miles west of Darwin. They attacked I-124 with an intensive depth charge pattern but had no conclusive proof of any damage. The 3 Australian corvettes "Deloraine", "Katoomba" and "Lithgow" were ordered to assist with destroying the Japanese submarine. "Deloraine" arrived in the area on 20 January 1942 and at 1.35pm her starboard lookout reported "Torpedo approaching green 100". Commander Desmond Menlove immediately ordered the helm to starboard and full speed on the engines. The tactic worked and the torpedo missed its mark.

3 minutes later, using asdic,   "Deloraine" located I-124 about 2,500 yards ahead. Another 5 minutes later she laid down a diamond pattern of 6 depth charges. Bubbles of air and some oil bubbled to the surface. At 1.48pm following 2 more depth charge attacks, Japanese submarine I-124 blew to the surface but almost immediately dived below the surface, never to be seen again on the surface.

"Lithgow" and "Katoomba" arrived later in the afternoon while "Deloraine" headed for Darwin for more depth charges. It rejoined the others again by 3.05am the next morning. Another asdic contact was made and after more depth charge attacks, "Deloraine" claimed it had destroyed 2 Japanese submarines, while "Katoomba" had also claimed another Japanese submarine.

Later that day a diver from the Fleet Repair Ship "USS Black Hawk"  located the wreck of Japanes submarine I-124. He could hear survivors tapping on the hull. No evidence was ever found of the two other reported submarine "kills".

Lieutenant Bruce Johnston Harvey (RANVR) of HMAS Deloraine, was awarded a DSC for his "skill and resources in HMAS Deloraine when the Japanese submarine I-124 was destroyed off Darwin on 21 January 1942."

Able Seaman Carson Jefferson Taite (RANR) of HMAS Deloraine, was awarded a DSM for his "skill and resources in HMAS Deloraine when the Japanese submarine I-124 was destroyed off Darwin on 21 January 1942."

Japanese submarine I-124 had laid 27 mines in the waters near Darwin earlier in January 1942.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Firkins, Peter, "Of Nautilus and Eagles - History of the Royal Australian Navy", Cassel Australia,1975

Worledge, G.R., "Contact! - HMAS Rushcutter and Australia's Submarine Hunters 1939-1946", The Anti-submarine Officer's Association, 1994

 

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This page first produced 22 November 2000

This page last updated 18 June 2005