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Reginald Andrew interview, parts 5 and 6

Date: 1977
Overall: 17 x 109 x 69 mm, 72 g
Medium: Plastic, cardboard
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Steven Carruthers
Classification:Sound communication
Object Name: Audio cassette
Object No: 00047658

User Terms

    Lieutenant Reginald T. Andrew was responsible for destroying Lieutenant Matsuo's midget submarine I-22. Andrew was a man of 32 who had joined the channel patrol boat HMAS SEA MIST two days before the attack, on completion of six weeks training at Flinders Naval base in Victoria. Andrew is descended from eight generations of sailing ship captains. On the night of the attack, Andrew was given command of HMAS SEA MIST which he started at 4pm on the night of the attack in May 1942.
    SignificanceThis audio record captures a personal view of the Japanese attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942 and provides significant information about the event.
    HistoryThe evening of Sunday 31 May 1942 was dark and cloudy at Sydney. Outside the Heads, the wind was south by west of moderate force, the sea rough with a fair swell running. There was a full moon that night but it was obscured by thick cloud cover. Fixed anti-submarine defences consisted of outer and inner indicator loops at the Heads, but the first mentioned were out of action. At the Inner entrance to the harbour an anti-torpedo boom was being constructed between George's Head on Middle Head, and Green Point on Inner South Head. The centre portion of the net was completed, but there were gaps at each end, though un-netted piles were in position on the western gap.

    The principal naval vessels in the harbour were US Ships CHICAGO, PERKINS, and DOBBIN with HMAS BUNGAREE at buoys in Man-of-War anchorage; HMAS CANBERRA at No 1 Buoy in Farm Cove; merchant cruisers KANIMBLA and WESTRALIA across the harbour off Neutral Bay; ADELAIDE alongside on the west side of Garden Island; and the corvettes WHYALLA and GEELONG at the oil wharf on the north-west corner of the island; HMIS BOMBAY at No 9 Buoy, and the Dutch submarine K 9 fast outside the depot ship KUTTABUL which was lying alongside at the south-east corner of Garden Island.

    Available harbour defence craft were anti-submarine vessels YANDRA and BINGERA, minesweeper GOONAMBEE and SAMUEL BENBOW, four duty naval auxiliary patrol boats and six channel patrol boats, YARROMA, LOLITA, STEADY HOUR, SEA MIST, MARLEAN and TOOMAREE.

    At about 4.30 pm, three Japanese submarines located seven miles off Sydney Heads released their midget submarines which went undetected through the Heads. The signature of an inward crossing was recorded on an indicator loop at 8 pm. It was made by Ha-14 from I 27, but at the time, owing to the ferry and other traffic over the loops, its significance was not recognised. Approximately fifteen minutes later Mr. J Cargill, a Maritime Services Board watchman sighted a suspicious object caught in the anti-torpedo net near the west gate. After investigations, it was reported to YARROMA at 9.30 pm. After deciding that what was originally thought to be a magnetic mine was actually a submarine, permission was given to open fire.

    As this was happening, another inward crossing, again taken as no special import was recorded on the indicator loop. At 10.27 pm, a warning instructed all ships in Sydney Harbour to take anti-submarine precautions and the port was closed to outward shipping. M24 was creating a stir in the harbour close to CHICAGO while Ha-21 entered the Heads but did not reach the loop. It was sighted by LAURIANA and YANDRA both of which attacked with a pattern of six depth charges after another sighting 600 yards away. While this was going on, ferries continued to run thus keeping the submarines down until daylight. It wasn’t until 11.14 pm that the instruction to darken the ships was given. Fifteen minutes later, an underwater explosion wrecked KUTTABUL resulting in the deaths of 221 naval ratings. It was later discovered that this was caused by one of two torpedoes which, fired at CHICAGO by M24, passed under the Dutch submarine K 9 and struck the harbour bed and wall beneath KUTTABUL.

    By now the harbour was awake with the patrol vessels slipped and sent on patrols with many periods of silence and an attack from KANIMBLA. This was the prelude to some three hours of intense activity by SEA MIST, STEADY HOUR and YARROMA who were all patrolling the west gate area. At approximately 5 am, SEA MIST investigated a suspicious object in Taylors Bay. Lieutenant Andrews from SEA MIST illuminated the object with an Aldis lamp, identified it as a submarine and made two depth charge attacks, simultaneously firing Very lights. YARROMA and STEADY HOUR came to the scene and more depth charges were fired. The wreck of Ha-21 lay on the harbour bed in Taylors Bay, battered by depth charge explosions, the torpedoes jammed in their tubes and the two crew members- Lieutenant Keiu Matsuo and Petty Officer Masao Tsuzuko dead.

    On 4 June 1942, with the help of the Sheerlegs crane and slings, the wreck was warped into shallow water and finally brought on shore. The occupants were found to have died by the result of self-inflicted revolver shots to the head.

    From the remains of the two submarines recovered - the components of which were identical - a complete submarine was constructed. This made a voyage around Australia by road and raised funds for the Naval Relief Fund. On 28 April 1943, the composite midget submarine arrived at the Australian War Memorial where it remains today. The bodies of the four Japanese recovered from the two submarines were cremated with full naval honours.

    M24 disappeared from the harbour and was not located until 2006 off Bungan Heads, NSW.

    The attack on Sydney Harbour achieved little for the Japanese though the slow action of the Australian Navy contributed to the sinking of KUTTABUL but saved the intended targets, USS CHICAGO and HMAS CANBERRA. The midget submarine raid remains a potent symbol of the extent of Japanese operations against Australia during World War II.

    Steven Carruthers served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1969 to 1977 and specialised as a radar plotter and anti-submarine air controller (ASAC) aboard HMA Ships ANZAC , QUEENBOROUGH, SWAN, YARRA and the fleet aircraft carrier, HMAS MELBOURNE . During his service career, he developed a keen interest in naval history. After serving his time in the RAN, Steven worked as a NSW Fisheries Officer in Sydney Harbour, tagging abalone for a research project, before going overseas to work as a commercial diver in the North Sea, West Africa and Papua New Guinea. At the age of 32 years, Steven retired as a commercial diver to pursue his interest in writing. His books include 'Australia Under Siege: Japanese Submarine Raiders 1942' (Australia: Solus Books, 1982) and 'Japanese Submarine Raiders 1942: A Maritime Mystery' (Australia: Casper Publications, 2006). In 1998, 2001 and 2002 he was awarded the Australian Business & Specialist Publishers Association (ABSP) Bell Award for 'Best Small Publisher'.

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