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Attitudes to the war
Midget submarine chronology
1942
24 AprilThe operation group left Japan for Truk (now Chuuk) in Micronesia. There were five mother submarines (I-21, I-22, I-24, I-27, I-29) and the mother ship, Chiyoda, which carried four midget submarines on board. Another mother submarine, I-28 was going to participate in the operation, but it was sunk before reaching Truk. BAN and his crewman, ASHIBE, thought their mission had been cancelled, since their midget no longer had its mother submarine.
14 MayI-29 took its position somewhere off Sydney Heads and a reconnaissance plane which it transported in the submarine flew over Sydney.
17 MayThree midget submarines (commanded by CHUMAN, MATSUO and YAMAKI) were loaded onto I-22, I-24, and I-27 in Truk.
18 MayThe three mother submarines left Truk for Sydney with the midget submarines, but on YAMAKI’s midget, aboard I-24, there was an explosion in which YAMAKI was wounded and his crewman died. I-24 returned to Truk and loaded another midget submarine, commanded by BAN.
20 MaySecond aerial reconnaissance was carried out over Sydney Harbour.
23 MayThird aerial reconnaissance was carried out over Sydney Harbour.
29 MayFourth aerial reconnaissance by pilot ITO Susumu confirmed the presence of warships in the harbour.
30 MayThree mother submarines with their midget submarines arrived off Sydney (35 nautical miles north-east of Sydney Heads) to take up their positions.
31 MayCHUMAN’s midget submarine was detached from the mother submarine at around 17.30. BAN’s and MATSUO’s vessels were also detached at 30-minute intervals to commence their mission.

At 22.30 CHUMAN detonated the scuttling device to destroy his vessel after its screw fouled in the anti-submarine net at the entrance to the Harbour. CHUMAN and OMORI died in the explosion.

About midnight, BAN’s midget submarine launched two torpedoes to attack the USS Chicago, which was moored at the Garden Island Naval Base. One torpedo exploded against the seawall and sank a converted ferry boat, Kuttabul. 21 ratings (19 Australian and 2 British sailors) were killed in this attack. BAN’s vessel left the harbour and vanished.

1 JuneMATSUO’s midget submarine was sunk by depth charges in Taylor Bay at around 7.00. MATSUO and TSUZUKU committed suicide by shooting themselves with pistol.
Navy divers checked how to salvage MATSUO’s and CHUMAN’s submarines.
2 June Reports on the midget submarine attack were published in the Australian press.

Prime Minister John Curtin assured Australians about their security from attack.

Senator Joseph C. Collings, Minister for the Interior, suggested that one of the Japanese craft be made available for exhibition at the Australian War Memorial. The Lord Mayors of Sydney and Melbourne asked the Prime Minister for permission to exhibit one of the submarines to raise money for the Australian Comfort Fund.

3 JuneSightings of another midget submarine were reported in the harbour, which turned out to be false. I-24, which had been waiting for the midget submarine’s return, attacked Australian freighters and sank Iron Chieftain. Similar attacks on freighters continued for several days.
4 JuneSlings were placed under the hull of MATSUO’s submarine to salvage it.
Japanese newspapers reported the simultaneous midget submarine attacks in Sydney and Diego Suarez in Madagascar and claimed they had caused considerable damage.
5 JuneThe bodies of CHUMAN and OMORI were retrieved and taken to the police morgue.

When MATSUO’s submarine was lifted out of the water, naval ratings took off their caps out of respect for the dead seamen believed to be inside the hull. The bodies of MATSUO and TSUZUKU were recovered and taken to the police morgue.

The Japanese Imperial Navy officially announced the midget submarines’ surprise attacks in Sydney and Madagascar.

8 June I-24 shelled the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I-21 shelled Newcastle.
CHUMAN’s submarine was raised and its torpedos were disarmed.
9 JuneA military funeral for the four Japanese submariners was held at Eastern Suburbs Cemetery in Botany Bay. Criticism of Rear Admiral Muirhead-Gould’s decision to organise the funeral with military honour was published in newspapers.
10 JuneThe Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial defending Muirhead-Gould’s decision.
Radio Tokyo picked up the story of the naval funeral in Sydney.
9 JulyCHUMAN’s military sword, which had been recovered from his vessel, was sent to Prime Minster John Curtin in Canberra; he instructed it should be kept at the Australian War Memorial for posterity.
JulyMuirhead-Gould spoke on the ABC’s radio station 2FC about the public exhibition of the Japanese midget submarine in order to appeal the listeners support for the war loan. In his talk, he defended having arranged the military funeral for the Japanese submariners.
AugustThree sections of the two midget submarines and items which were taken from the craft were exhibited at Fort Macquarie and some items from the submarines were auctioned to the public.
13 AugustThe ashes of the submariners were delivered to KAWAI Tatsuo, Minister at the Japanese diplomatic mission in Melbourne, by the Swiss Consul.
14 AugustKAWAI, with the submariners’ ashes, boarded the exchange ship, City of Canterbury, in Melbourne.
18 AugustCity of Canterbury left Melbourne for Lorenšo Marques (present-day Maputo in Mozambique) with about 800 Japanese civilians who had been interned in Australia since the beginning of the Pacific War.
SeptemberAt Lorenšo Marques, the submariners’ ashes and the Japanese passengers were transferred to the Japanese exchange ship, Kamakura Maru. A commemoration ceremony for the four crewmen was held on board Kamakura Maru on the way home.
9 OctoberKamakura Maru reached Yokohama and the ashes were disembarked at the pier as hundreds of people gathered to welcome the return.
10 OctoberYOSHIKAWA Eiji’s article on the arrival of the ashes was published in the Yomiuri Hochi newspaper.
November In Australia, the national tour of the composite midget submarine started. Public exhibitions were held in many cities and towns, including Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Adelaide, Ballarat, Bendigo, Albury, and Gundagai.
8 DecemberAdmiral YAMAMOTO Isoroku granted a citation to all the crew members of the Second Special Submarine attack flotilla, which had attacked Sydney and Diego Suarez.
1943
5 February Special promotion of two ranks was granted to the midget submarine crews by the Japanese Imperial Navy.
30 MarchA joint Navy funeral was held at the Navy Headquarters in Kure for the ten submariners who died in the Sydney and Diego Suarez attacks, as well as for other naval personnel who were killed in actions.
28 April The midget submarine reached the Australian War Memorial in Canberra after the completion of the national tour. It was to be displayed in an enclosure.
1944
JanuaryA film by the Daiei company, Kikuchi senbonyari [One thousand spears of the Kikuchi clan], was premiered in Kumamoto.
AugustMATSUO Keiu’s biography, Ketsujo-ki [A pure and noble life], was published.
POST-WAR PERIOD
1962YAMASHITA Takeo, author and policeman in Osaka, published his memoir of the Pacific War, Minami Jujisei (Southern Cross), in Japan in 1959 and in 1962 presented a copy to the Australian War Memorial. He received a letter of acknowledgement from J.J. McGrath, Director of the Memorial.
1963
OctoberYAMASHITA visited the Australian War Memorial and realised that MATSUO’s thousand-stiches belt was on display in the gallery. He discussed repatriation of the belt to MATSUO’s family in Japan with McGrath, who offered to seek an approval from the War Memorial Board of Trustees.
1964
FebruaryYAMASHITA showed a photograph of the belt to MATSUO’s mother in Kumamoto, saying that he hoped the belt would be returned. The Kumamoto local newspaper reported that the belt would be returned. Mrs. MATSUO wrote a thank you letter to McGrath in the belief that the repatriation would proceed. However, the War Memorial Board of Trustees did not approve repatriation of the belt, as it would create a precedent: only a photograph should be sent to the mother.
At YAMASHITA’s request, McGrath wrote to Mrs MATSUO to assure her of the safe keeping of the belt and sent her a photograph of it.
MarchYAMASHITA visited the MATSUO family with McGrath’s letter to explain that the belt would not be returned.
AprilYAMASHITA met H.V. Clark at the 6th Osaka International Fair and promised to work with him to write a book on the Cowra Breakout.
OctoberPhotographs of MATSUO’s body belt and CHUMAN’s helmet were presented to the Naval Museum in Etajima by the MATSUO family.
1965
July On holiday with his wife, J.J. McGrath met Mrs MATSUO in Kumamoto. Their visit was widely reported in Kumamoto. Upon his return, the news that the body belt would not be repatriated, despite of the family’s request, was reported in the Australian media. Some Australians wrote to McGrath and urged it be returned to the family.
AugustMcGrath organised a commemoration ceremony at the midget submarine with sixty visiting Japanese university students. He sprinkled sake from the MATSUO family on the submarine in dedication.
1966
H.V. Clark and YAMASHITA Takeo published To Sydney by Stealth. (A Japanese translation, Kesshi no tokushu senkotei, was published in 1967.)
Four Japanese destroyers visiting Sydney scattered wreaths for the submarines at the entrance to Sydney Harbour.
1967
OctoberThe Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mrs MATSUO wanted to visit Australia to pay homage to her son. A public subscription was organised in Kumamoto to pay for her trip.
1968
MarchW.R. Lancaster, Director of the Australian War Memorial who succeeded McGrath, sent a letter of invitation to Mrs MATSUO. Lancaster consulted the members of the War Memorial Board of Management about repatriation and it was decided that the belt would be handed to the mother.
28 AprilMrs MATSUO Matsue arrived in Sydney with her daughter, SAEKI Fujie, and Prof. MATSUMOTO Tadakazu, who acted as a coordinator and interpreter.
29 AprilMrs. MATUO visited Taylor Bay where her son’s submarine sank and threw a wreath from a launch.
A wreath laying ceremony was held at the Cenotaph in Martin Place in Sydney.
1 MayThe delegation arrived in Canberra. Mrs MATSUO was received by Prime Minster John Gorton at Parliament House. Then they visited the Australian War Memorial to see the midget submarine. During the meeting with Director Lancaster, she was presented with her son’s body belt.
1969
NovemberA poem by Mrs MATSUO was presented to the Governor-General, Paul Hasluck, by MIYATA Sanae, president of the Yawata Iron and Steel Workers’ Union and Chairman of the Kyushu Office, International metal Workers’ Federation, Japan Council.
1973
SeptemberVice-Admiral ISHINO Jikyo, an ex-submariner and the commander in chief of the Japanese Training Squadron, visited the War Memorial to inspect the midget submarine.
1980
JanuaryMrs MATSUO passed away at the age of 95.
1982
November38 members of the Japanese Midget Submarine Association delegation visited Australia to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the attack.
1985
SAKAMAKI Kazuo, the commander of a midget submarine which went aground on the eastern coast of the island of Oahu during the Pearl Harbour attack and became the first Japanese prisoner in the Pacific War, visited Garden Island.
MarchThe midget submarine was transported from Canberra to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney for restoration work.
1987
JulyThe midget submarine was transported back to the Australian War Memorial from the Cockatoo Island Dockyard after the completion of restoration work.
SeptemberA handing-over ceremony was held at the Australian War Memorial to mark the completion of restoration work. The submarine was displayed at the Mitchell Annex of the Australian War Memorial.
1988
September74 members of the Japanese Midget Submarine Association visited Sydney to dedicate a memorial plaque at Garden Island bearing the names of the six Japanese submarine crewmen. Controversy erupted when opposition was expressed by a member of the Returned and Services League against the installation of the plaque near where the Kuttabul had sunk. In the end, the plaque was welded to the base of the conning tower of the midget submarine which was on exhibition at Garden Island.
1992
JuneA special exhibition, Hitting home! Japanese midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour, opened at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour. It closed in January 1993.
1998
MarchThe Japanese Midget Submarine Association was dissolved due to the ageing of its members. The last president was YAMAKI Teiji, who had to abort his Sydney mission in due to the accident on his vessel.
2001
JuneANZAC Hall at the Australian War Memorial was opened, with the midget submarine display as its main attraction.
2002
MayJapanese Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro visited Australia and delivered a speech on the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney and praised Australian handling of the crew’s ashes and the favourable reception of Mrs. MATSUO. He visited the Australian War Memorial to inspect the midget submarine in ANZAC Hall.
2006
NovemberA submarine wreck was located outside Sydney Harbour by amateur scuba divers and formally identified by the Australian government as the missing vessel which had been operated by BAN Katsuhisa and ASHIBE Mamoru.
1 DecemberThe Commonwealth government declared an Interim Heritage Order under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976, and the no-entry zone of 500 metres radius around the wreck. The site was monitored constantly in order to prevent any disturbances. The New South Wales government similarly decided to protect the wreck through an emergency interim Heritage Order. Fines up to $1.1 million, or up to six months’ jail, would be applied for anyone caught damaging the site.
2007
AugustA joint commemorative ceremony was held in Sydney by the RAN and the Japanese Maritime Defence Force (JMDF) to coincide with the JMDF training squadron’s visit to Sydney. Family members of the submarine crews, including those of BAN and ASHIBE, travelled from Japan. Sand which had been collected in the conning tower of was presented in urns to the family members. The urn BAN’s family received was later presented to Yushukan, the war museum at the Yasukuni Shrine, and is displayed in the gallery.
2009
MayBAN’s vessel was declared an historic shipwreck under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwreck Act 1976. Under the act, it is an offence to disturb, damage, or remove relics from the wreck. The constant monitoring system protects the site from any disturbance.

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