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

At this point the second submarine theory surfaced again. With modem satellite navigation, it was found that the I124 was not where the Navy claimed it to be - it was outside the declared zone. The second submarine story persisted, with fishermen claiming to have caught ob'ects in their nets, and other divers saying they had seen a submarine down there wit k no gun, but with a hangar on the deck, and that this second submarine must have been carrying seaplanes. The salvage operators were able to say that this was the second submarine and, as it was outside the declared zone, they were able to dive on it. However, it definitely was the 1124. They eventual1 did the ri ht thing and reported its exact position. The declared war grave has now r~ een move to the correct place, and this is virtually how the matter remains at present. % The Americans have a submarine in Chicago which was captured from the Germans by an enterprising Admiral aboard an aircraft carrier. The Germans attem ted to scuttle the submarine, but an American boarding party was sent on board w f en the submarine just had its bow and the to of the conning tower out of the water in very rough seas. It was wallowing and sizing. The intrepid party went below and found where the Germans had unbolted a plate from the water strainer. Water was coming in through a 270mm tube. The boarding party plugged it, got a rope on board from the American aircraft carrier, and started towing the submarine with all the hydroplanes down, so that they made it plane on the water. They got the propellers going fast enough to generate power through the electric motors to start the bilge pumps and eventually saved the submarine. This submarine is a little larger than the 1124, and it is now located outside the Chicago Museum, A hole has been cut thou h the wall of the museum and visitors walk ~n through the side of the submarine, t fir ough the ballast tanks and the main pressure hull. Museum visitors can step straight into the submarine and see the size of the ballast tanks. It is a wonderful exhibit, and it is something that I would very much like to have in Darwin. There is the problem of the bodies still bein on board. I would counter this by saying that the Japanese are still working in torregidor digging up bodies from that incredible battle. They are cleaning the bones and cremating them. This is part of the Japanese religion of releasing the soul from the body. I cannot see why the same conditions could not be applied to any remains on this submarine, that the Japanese treat them in any way in which they would like to, or they could sim ly be taken from the submarine and placed on the sea-bed where they died in the su marine. I really do not see that they have to stay in the submarine. E That is the story of the 1124. With respect to the other three submarines in the group, two were sunk about a year later, and the fourth was finally taken out of comm~ssion and broken up. This was discovered after the war when Australia was able to go through Japanese records. There is no possibility of there being a second submarine in Clarence Strait, and particularly not a Japanese one. The Germans did not lose a single submarine in Australian waters. There were no American submarines there at the time. The Dutch certainly had submarines around, but they were not there at the time either. A recent expedition found a rock formation sticking up out of the sea bed some distance away from I124 and it is almost certain that this 1s what caused the two submarine controversy.