- Duchesne, Tim
- Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities, WWII operations, Book reviews
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Deloraine, HMAS Katoomba, HMAS Lithgow
- June 1998 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Author: Tom Lewis
This is the story of the Japanese minelaying submarine I-124, built at Kobe in 1928 and sunk off Darwin on 20th January, 1942. The author also discusses Japanese submarines in general terms, describes the raid on Darwin, and tells of the many diving expeditions on the wreck of this boat, including short-lived plans for salvage.
I-124 was sunk by HMAS DELORAINE in a well executed depth charge attack, assisted by a USN Kingfisher float plane. Subsequently, the submarine (by then almost certainly a wreck) was further attacked by HMA Ships KATOOMBA and LITHGOW, and by US Ships EDSALL and ALDEN. Nearly 200 depth charges must have been expended on this target over almost three days. Later descriptions of the wreck, lying upright in about 150 feet of water, reveal astonishingly little damage to the boat. The cause of sinking would appear to have been the springing open of hatches by depth charges. It is interesting to recall that British submarines on patrol in those days had substantial external clips, or “dogs”, on their hatches to prevent such an occurrence.
The author’s explanations of Doppler and Asdics, the principles of submarine trimming and the procedure for changing depth are in error. True to their name, the publisher’s (“Tall Stories“) flyer makes much of sensational and nonsensical myths concerning I-124. These include the possibility that she had a hand in the sinking of SYDNEY, that her cryptographic code books were clandestinely recovered by USN divers, that she carried a valuable cargo of mercury, and that “desperate tapping” was heard by USN divers after her sinking. The author gives all these yams a good run, but to his credit they are eventually dismissed.
It is an interesting story, if a bit too discursive for this reviewer’s taste, and it is well illustrated with many contemporary photographs. It would be more compelling and authoritative if the author had had the benefit of a good editor and some competent submarine advice.
Published by: Tall Stories, GPO Box 2935, Darwin, NT, 0801. RRP: $25.