Territory Stories

The I124 : Japanese submarine wreck in Clarence Strait



The I124 : Japanese submarine wreck in Clarence Strait


Dermoudy, Peter


Northern Territory Library Occasional Papers; E-Books; PublicationNT; Occasional papers (State Library of the Northern Territory) ; no. 34




The sinking of the Japanese submarine I124 in Clarence Strait in 1942, and the futile attempts to salvage it.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


OCLC Number: 38319314




Submarines (Ships); World War, 1939-1945; Northern Territory; Naval Operations; Submarine; Shipwrecks; Northern Territory; Clarence Strait

Publisher name

State Library of the Northern Territory

Place of publication



Occasional papers (State Library of the Northern Territory) ; no. 34


v, 5 pages ; 30 cm.

File type



0724507175; 9780724507177




Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Library & Archives NT



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

The next morning three Australian corvettes were called out. The Alden had remained almost on station and was still moving around the submarine. The Australian ships went out and there was also, by this stage, a Dutch Dornier flying boat circling over the area. The Alden dropped a buoy where they thought the submarine was located, and an incredible number of depth charges were dropped. Some of them were set so shallow that one of the Australian ships, the Lithgow, blew some of the wiring out of its anti-submarine equi ment. For a long time they were unable to use their asdic. They had almost mine J' their radios as well, and the had also blown their gyro compass from its mountings. The Deloraine was suf f ering much the same dama e. It was so badly knocked up that on the day of the Japanese raid she was in the d rydock bein repaired from her own depth charges which had resulted in buckled plates and the f ike. There were large quantities of oil and bubbles rising. The Deloraine was closing in, and they saw an approachin torpedo track. They managed to manoeuvre very sharp1 and the torpedo misse the stern by about ten feet; it was a close shave. This B 8 provi ed confirmation that the submarine was present, and it surfaced shortly after, only the bow and conning tower appearing. It is thou ht that one of the ships was so 1P c f close to it, that one of its de th charges actually lande on the submarine's deck whilst it was still on the surface. he submarine went down. There were masses of oil. They then started to pick up what seemed like the echoes from two submarines. This is where the event became confusing and caused considerable speculation which still continues. The official analysis would have it that the submarine was critically damaged, but was still 'ust capable of movement and was trying to escape very slowly. When depth c A arges are dropped, the water is disturbed and the asdic becomes virtually useless, as it does when a vessel crosses her own wake. Circling ships may have picked up one another's propeller disturbances and depth charge patterns. Also, dropping depth charges always results in an oil slick. Inexperience on many of the ships articipating could have meant that they identified depth charge debris as oil slicks ? rom submarines. At this stage the battle was about 19 miles south of Ca e Fourcroy. There was no ships were w f~ irling around attempting to so there were storms coming in reducing be used with any accuracy was one of the to Radar Hill - in those days at sea and I think that they were that it is extremely difficult to out from Bathurst Island. With the for another, the ships thought there turned into three submarines. All the ships ran out of depth charges on the 20th, the first day. They returned to port and reloaded and went out for a second day and had another crack at the submarine. They tried to send divers down. At that stage of the war, it was important that they attempt to retrieve the code books etc, which would have been of immense value. But, as you all know, there are massive tides in this area. They were also frightened that there were other submarines about, and any major ship out there sending down divers would have been a sitting target. There were Americans on board one of the small Australian boom ships who attempted diving. Initially they could not find the submarine, and it was on1 after another four days, on the 24th, that they finally got on board. They reported t K at the submarine had a gun, and that there was a hatch blown open just aft of the coming tower. The divers were of the opinion that the depth charges had opened the seals to the mine tubes. They were ordered to enter the submarine via the mine laying tubes at the stern. However, they could not get aboard, and could only stay down for about 16 minutes, because of the depth and because of the type of gear they had.

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