The Australian Navy's first successful offensive against Japan
was the sinking of Imperial Japanese Naval Submarine 'I-124'
on 20th January 1942 north-west of Darwin at 12 degrees
07'S; 130 degress 09'E.
The following report was submitted by LCDR D.A. Menlove RANR(S)
CO of HMAS Deloraine. LCDR W. Eric Thompson RANR was the Gunnery
OFFICER HMAS DELORAINE - 23rd JANUARY 1942
NAVAL OFFICER IN CHARGE, NORTHERN TERRITORY
ATTEMPTED TORPEDOING OF HMAS "DELORAINE' AND COUNTER ATTACKS
SUBMITTED FOR INFORMATION.
At 1155 (K.L) on Tuesday 20th January, 1942 whilst carrying out
Double Oropese Sweep of searching channel off Port Darwin, a signal
was received by W/T from Naval Officer in Charge, Darwin, ordering
Deloraine to "Proceed forthwith to position 12 degrees 08's 130
degrees 10'E, for submarine sighted 0630 today Tuesday. Attacked
by "Aldon" (US Destroyer) U.S Aircraft and Destroyers will co-operate"
T.O.R 1154 (K-L)
2. Speed was reduced to 8 knots and sweeps recovered with
all effort consistent with speed and safety. Immediately on recovering
of sweeps at 1203 speed was increased from 8 knots in steps of
two knots to 14 knots and course 275 degrees set to reach position
given in your signal.
3. Speed of 14 knots was attained at 1224. I did not order
a higher speed taking into consideration the fact that I might
need this higher speed later for an emergency.
4. Course was altered at 1250 to investigate a floating
object bearing 356 degrees, and at 1300 object was identified
as a sand hill on Bathurst Island which had been partially obscured
by a rain squall.
5. Course was reset at 256 degrees at 1300 to reach the
signalled position and I estimated that Deloraine would be in
that position at 1336.
6. At 1335.5 I moved out to starboard wing of bridge prior
to giving the necessary orders to alter course to 323 degrees
to close aircraft which had just been sighted. The starboard lookout
Able Seaman O'Neill gave an alarm "TORPEDO APPROACHING GREEN 100",
and I ordered the helm to be put hard to starboard, and full speed
on the engines. The ship responded quickly and the torpedo passed
10 feet astern. When ordering full speed I also sounded off "ACTION
7. A bearing of the torpedoes wake was 336 -156 degrees
and an aircraft was observed flying towards me on the reciprocal
bearing of 156 degrees.
8. At 1338 course was steadied 336 degrees to close submarine
which was then straight ahead by Asdic Contact range 2500 Yards.
Echo received slight opening doppler.
9. Three planes were observed circling over position from
which Asdic contact was obtained. One Catalina flying boat and
two American float planes.
10. At 1343 attack was carried out with pattern of charges
- Port Rail 150 feet, Port Rail 250 feet.
11. After explosion of pattern large oil and air bubble'
were plainly seen, and altered to reciprocal course to make second
12. At 1346 ship was steadied on reciprocal course proceeding
towards centre of oil and air bubbles, Asdic Contact Steady. At
1348 fired second pattern of two charges from rails both at 250
feet, submarine surfaced at 1349 showing periscope and bow. It
was clearly noticed that submarine was trimmed about 5 degrees
by stern; and listing at least 20 degrees to Port. Periscope appeared
black and base rusty colour.
13. Immediately I altered course to bring port thrower
to bear on periscope and fired with a depth charge setting of
100 feet. This charge was observed to land no more than 100 feet
from periscope, submarine at that time was endeavouring to crash
dive. About 10 seconds after our depth charge landed in water
an aircraft dived and dropped a bomb within feet of our depth
charge. The bomb appeared to burst on contact with water, and
about one second after depth charge explosion.
14. Course was altered to open Asdic Range for further
attacks and at range of 1200 yards re-altered to close for attack.
15. At this juncture it was reported that submarine was
steady - no doppler this indicating submarine was stationary and
evidently on bottom. Oil and air bubbles continued to come to
surface in very large quantities, and I am firmly of the opinion
that submarine was then crippled.
16. At 1346 another attack was made with pattern of six
depth charges settings staggered in similar manner to first pattern.
17. Range was opened to 2000 yards after firing this pattern
and then steamed through area to make further observations. Again
it was clearly seen that large Oil and air bubbles were rising
to surface and Asdic Contact was good, showing no Doppler. Samples
of Oil were collected in buckets as we passed through area and
appeared quite definitely(sic) to be a type of engine oil. Many
particles of T.N.T were observed floating in the area. At this
stage there were only five depth charges remaining and it was
considered wise to conserve these for a possible emergency and
if necessary carry out single attacks later.
18. In giving position of this attack it is requested that
consideration be given to my statement of "estimated position",
as it was not possible to obtain good fixes from land on Bathurst
Island owing to heavy rain squalls an distance of land marks.
"Estimated position" in which attack was carried Lat12 degrees
07'S. Long 130 degrees 09'E. Furthermore tides off Port Darwin
are strong and difficult to estimate effect in this area.
19. Communication by W/T at time of first attack was regrettably
not possible owing to transmitter developing fault on firing first
pattern of depth charges, attempts were made to pass this message
to you via Catalina' flying boat but difficulty was experienced
in passing message by light. Later however, flying boat did report
having cleared message to you.
20. As no other ships had arrived at scene of attack I
remained crossing and recrossing to retain Asdic Contact. Throughout
the following half hour 1400-1430 we had perfect contacts with
no Doppler - target stationary. Oil and Air observed to be rising
continuously which confirmed my belief(sic) that submarine had
been put out of action permanently.
21. At 1430 whilst crossing through oil patch at scene
of first attack another echo was heard approximately 125 degrees
3000 yards from us.
22. Investigation of this echo was made forthwith and considered
to be submarine echo. It was then decided to manoeuvre to position
and carry out deliberate attack on this new Asdic Contact which
had no apparent doppler.
23. At 1440 attack was made with pattern of two depth charges
from rails at staggered settings of Port side 150 feet, Starboard
side 250 feet. Very definate (sic) Oil and Air Bubbles were seen
to rise after this attack. A further attack was carried out at
1450 over the same spot as Asdic Contact remained, charges were
fired as follows Port rail 150 feet, Starboard rail l50 feet,
Port rail 250 feet.
24. The depth of water in all these attacks was approximately
25. At 1500 signal was made to notify you that all my depth
charges had been expended.
26. It was decided to remain and keep both contacts until
other vessels arrived.
27. There was no difficulty experienced in holding the
two contacts and at 1610 I sighted Lithgow approaching from Eastward,
so turned to meet her in order to lead her to position.
28. At 1620 I altered course leading Lithgow to position,
and at 1630 asked him for his DR position to allow me to check
my own. These positions were reasonably close.
29. I notified Lithgow at 1700 that I had passed over position
and immediately hauled out of line to take position and act as
directing vessel for her. Katoomba approached and signalled to
me at 1748, and I passed all possible information to her.
30. At 1927 Katoomba ordered me to proceed to meet Vigilant
to emb9rk depth charges and return to meet him at scene of defunct
submarine at daylight next day.
31. Vigilant was contacted and fast alongside me at 2210.
At 2325 Vigilant cast off and I proceeded in execution of Katoomba's
WEDNESDAY 21st. JANUARY 1942
At 0305 when approaching rendezvous a submarine echo was obtained,
Action Stations sounded and at 0321 passed 1st Dan Buoy marking
defunct submarine. As Asdic Contact was firm I decided to attack
again, and at 0322 fired pattern of two depth charges from rails
both set at 250 feet.
It was seen a few minutes later that oil patch had apparently
increased and a very strong smell of oil was most noticeable.
As no vessels were sighted in area I made a further attack with
pattern of two depth charges of similar settings to those at 0322.
Asdic Contact remained firm and I crossed over area until meeting
Katoomba at 0356.
In accordance with Katoomba's orders I commenced search southward
of position and joined her at daylight.
From daylight until 1155 I acted under Katoomba's order; and during
that time fired my remaining eleven depth charges in combined
attacks with her.
At 1155 I proceeded toward harbour and secured to G1 Buoy at 1708.
I have much pleasure in reporting that throughout the above mentioned
Actions my Officers, and Ship's Company carried. out their various
duties in a most willing and capable manner.
I have the honour to be, Sir
Your Obedient Servant
Signed O.A. Menlove
Lieut Commander RANR(S)