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SYDNEY, July 25

A hand-rigged Morse lamp, made from an old motor car reflector, and installed in an unarmed pleasure launch, gave" the first alarm when Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour.

This was revealed when Volunteer Naval Auxiliary patrolmen of the launch Lauriana told for the first time the story of the submarine raid on Sydney Harbour on the night of May 31, 1942. They said: "We were in the Lauriana, a 63ft 11-knot launch owned and skippered by Mr. Harold Arnott. The Lauriana was one of the three unarmed N.A.P. launches on the Heads patrol at 10.30 p.m. It. was a calm, moonlit night.

"First warning of the enemy's presence was a terrific explosion as a midget 'sub,' a mile from the Lauriana's position, blew itself up. We saw an orange flash and a column of water 60ft high leap from the boom. A few minutes later, our engineer,. S. Butler, who was the Lauriana's for'ard look-out, reported a break on the water, like a shark surfacing, 100 yards from the Lauriana. We immediately swung our bow searchlight on the spot.

"By that time the Lauriana's movement at five knots had closed the 'sub' to one point, and 40ft off the port bow. In the searchlight beam we saw the tip of a conning tower as we passed the sub. We kept our searchlight trained on the 'sub' but our speed carried us past him. We signalled a naval minesweeper nearby, swung the Lauriana back, and kept our searchlight trained on the last position where we had seen the 'sub.'

"The minsweeper rushed across at full speed and dropped depth-charges, which lifted the 60-ton Lauriana clean out of the water —we felt the launch airborne for a moment. The blast of the depth-charges rattled our teeth, but the Lauriana was undamaged. The midget was found later destroyed, either by the depthcharges or his own demolition charge of 1001b of gun-cotton, which he carried aft of the conning tower. Two other midgets got through the harbour screen. Twenty Killed; Ten Injured "One midget surfaced about 400 yards from the United States heavy cruiser Chicago, anchored in midstream, near Garden Island. A boomcutting saw-tooth had become bent in front of the tube from which the Jap commander fired the first torpedo. The saw-tooth deflected the torpedo at an angle of 45deg. Passing near the Chicago's keel, the torpedo sank the R.A.N, depot ship Kuttabul, killing 20 'map and injuring 10. The blast of this torpedo badly damaged a Dutch submarine. This was the submarine which was sold last Friday for £985 after stranding on Fiona beach.

"A second torpedo fired from the mudget 'sub' was a dud. It ploughed up on Garden Island beach, near a naval gun crew. The midget was destroyed. The fourth midget 'sub' was destroyed at eight o'clock next morning in Taylo,r Bay (between Bradley's Head and Chowder Bay) by depth-charges from the full-time Navy patrol launch Steady Hour. We consider that the bent saw-tooth in front of the Jap torpedo tube saved the Chicago—and also saved residents of the harbour foreshores. The explosion of the Chicago's ammunition magazines would have shattered buildings around the foreshores. The conning towers of the midget 'subs' were of case-hardened steel, which would deflect machinegun bullets like peas."

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Bibliographic details

SYDNEY RAID, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 178, 30 July 1945

Word Count

SYDNEY RAID Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 178, 30 July 1945

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