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New Zealand

Wreck of SS Montevideo Maru found 81 years after Australia’s worst wreck

On July 1, 1942, the Japanese transport SS Montevideo Maru was sunk by an American submarine off the coast of the Philippines.
photograph: Wiki Commons

The ship at the center of Australia’s worst maritime disaster was found 81 years after its sinking, more than 4,000 meters below the seabed.

Japanese transport ship SS Montevideo Maru Sunk off the Philippines on 1 July 1942 with about 979 Australian troops and civilians.

It was torpedoed by an American submarine that did not know it was carrying prisoners of war and civilians captured on Rabaul.

In total, about 1060 prisoners were lost, including 850 military personnel and 210 civilians from 14 countries.

The location of the shipwreck has remained a mystery for decades – until now.

SS Montevideo Maru After a 12-day search in the South China Sea, it was discovered by a Department of Defense-backed team led by the non-profit Silentworld Foundation and deep-sea research specialist Fugro.

No wreckage is disturbed and no human remains or artifacts are removed.Sites deeper than the wreckage of a shipwreck titanicrecorded for research purposes.

Features found in the wreck scan, such as the hold, foremast and bow curve, match those found in the ship’s drawings. Montevideo Maru.

A team from the Silent World Foundation involved in finding the shipwreck.

A team from the Silent World Foundation involved in finding the shipwreck.
photograph: Silentworld Foundation / Karen Eck

John Mullens, director of the Silent World Foundation, told ABC News Breakfast that there were mixed feelings on board when the discovery was made.

“We are looking at over 1000 graves,” he said.

“We lost almost double the number [Australians] As with the entire Vietnam War, it is extremely important to families and descendants.

“[The significance] There’s a mix of technical challenges that are absorbing and motivating…but on the other side of that is the human side.

“When I first saw the images of the ship, which no one had seen in 80 years since that tragic night, it was quite moving.

“There were two people on board who had missing family members, so one side was cheering and the other side was crying. It was very moving.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he hoped the discovery would bring “a measure of comfort” to the victims’ families.

“The extraordinary effort behind this discovery speaks to the enduring truth of Australia’s solemn national commitment to always remember and honor those who have served our country,” he said. rice field.

“This is the heart and spirit of Lest We Forget.”

A board with an article about the crew of the Montevideo Maru, which sank on July 1, 1942 with about 979 Australian troops and civilians on board.

A bulletin board that collects articles from Montevideo Maru passengers.
photograph: Silentworld Foundation / Karen Eck

A ‘very moving’ moment for the family

The discovery came as a form of family closure, including Cathy Parry McLennan, a Noosa woman. Her grandfather Arthur Parry was a radiologist when the ship sank.

She said her grandmother and her father, who were only 13 years old when Dr. Parry went missing, had been waiting for years to find out what had happened.

“[My grandmother] She took refuge in Sydney with my father and his brother and was informed on 30 October 1945,” she said.

“I remember my father telling me for years that he didn’t know what happened to him.

“They knew he was in New Guinea and had written letters…there was talk that he had been decapitated, that he might still be in hiding, and they got a telegram. rice field.

“It’s great to receive this and know he’s been found.”

For her father, Colwyn Parry, there was always “a great sense of loss and great love” for her missing father, Parry McLennan said.

“My father was very proud of him,” she said.

“He always spoke affectionately and jokingly of his father.”

Dr. Parry worked at a public health center in Papua New Guinea, but when war broke out he was not allowed to return to Australia, instead continuing to work as the sole physician in Rabaul and Kokopo.

According to a 1958 article reporting the arrival of Japanese troops in Rabaul, he refused evacuation when the situation became more serious.

“[A Kokopo plantationer said], Read the article “The situation is tough, will you come with us? Is there any other way out?” This article was saved by Colwyn Parry and passed on to his daughter after he died six years ago.

“Arthur Parry shook his head and said, ‘I can’t go. There are 200 boys in this hospital. I must stay and look after them.'”

Other families have lost multiple members of their families, with the NSW Turners having three young sons, Sidney, Dudley and Darryl, joining Australia’s first special forces.

Andrea Williams (center), who lost her grandfather and great-uncle in the Montevideo Maru sinking, with members of the Silent World Foundation team.

Andrea Williams (center), who lost her grandfather and great-uncle in the Montevideo Maru sinking, with members of the Silent World Foundation team.
photograph: Silentworld Foundation / Karen Eck

Aboard the search vessel when the wreck was discovered was Andrea Williams, who lost both her grandfather and great-uncle in the disaster.

Williams is a founding member of the Rabaul Montevideo Mar Society, which represents the interests of descendants.

“Today is a very important day for all Australians involved in this tragic disaster,” Williams said.

“I had my grandfather and great-uncle as civilian internees, Montevideo Maru It always meant that story mattered to me, as it does for many generations of families where a man died.

“I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t a stronger part of Australia’s World War II history.

“Being part of the Silentworld team that found the wreck was very emotional and fulfilling.”

Australian Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart said those involved had a “horrible fate at sea”.

“Today we have lost their service and everyone on board, including 20 Japanese guards and crew, Norwegian sailors, and hundreds of civilians from many countries. I remember that

“I would like to thank the Silent World team and their dedicated researchers, including the Army’s Uncollected War Victims team, who never gave up hope of finding the final resting place of war. Montevideo Maru.”

“Such losses have repercussions for decades and are a reminder of the human toll of conflict.”

letter from a deceased loved one

A Japanese POW ship was sunk by a US Navy submarine while transporting Australians and others to Hainan Island. USS Sturgeon.

Photograph of the Japanese prisoner-of-war ship Montevideo Maru sunk by an American torpedo off the coast of the Philippines on July 1, 1942.

Photo of the Montevideo Maru.
photograph: Silentworld Foundation / Karen Eck

of sturgeon Fired 4 torpedoes Montevideo MaruThe lifeboats on board the ship were launched, but all capsized and the ship sank in less than 11 minutes.

Many families have not been informed of a relative’s death for years.

again, Montevideo Maru It was an Australian soldier who was stationed with the Lark Army at Rabaul. They were captured by the conquering Japanese soldiers just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A few months later, hundreds of handwritten letters written by the men were dropped from the air by Japanese bombers over Port Moresby.

By the time they reached their intended destination, the authors were all dead.

Among them was Ronald Freeman, gunner of the 17th Anti-Tank Battery on Rabaul. He signed a letter to his pregnant wife Dorothy and her two-year-old daughter Vicky. Your dear husband; “

A memorial was unveiled in 2012 to commemorate the disaster, and the ceremony was attended by then-Papua New Guinea High Commissioner Peter Garrett.

The National Archives of Australia launched a new website listing all the names of those on board at the time, including a full translated copy of the Japanese casualty list.

The deaths were not fully revealed until after the war was over. Relatives can search for family members and add their own photos and messages to pay tribute to their loved ones.


https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/488479/ss-montevideo-maru-shipwreck-found-81-years-after-australia-s-worst-maritime-disaster Wreck of SS Montevideo Maru found 81 years after Australia’s worst wreck

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