Tag Archives: Montevideo Maru

Add Your Piece of History… 1st July

1 Jul
  • On this day in 1937.  England implements the world’s first telephone emergency system.  It began as a response to an emergency situation in which 5 people were killed.  Phone calls were delayed when people attempted to report a fire.  It was decided that a single number system was necessary to enable emergencies to be reported quickly and efficiently.  The first actual call on the British 9-9-9 emergency number occurred 7 days later, on 8 July 1937, when a woman reported a burglar outside her home.  The burglar was apprehended.

 

  • On this day in 1997.  After 156 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong was returned to China.  Britain invaded China in 1839, during the First Opium War.

 

  • On this day in 1942.  Australia’s worst maritime disaster occurs when the Montevideo Maru is torpedoed by American Submarine “USS Sturgeon”.   The war in the Pacific was initiated when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  Having taken out a large portion of the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese then set their sights on expanding their empire from the Indian/Burmese border, south through Malaya, across the islands off Indonesia to New Guinea, north west to the Gilbert Islands and north to the Kuril Islands off the Japanese coast.  In January 1942, Japanese forces landed in Rabaul on the island of New Britian, now part of Papua New Guinea.  There they established a defence base, launching offensives against Australian troops.  Prior to the invasion, there were an estimated 1400 troops in the region.  Of these, around 400 managed to escape.  The remaining 1000 were taken as prisoners of war (POWs), along with more than 200 civilians.  One group consistingg of almost 80 Australina officers and Army nurses was successfully moved from the base to Japanese territory.  The next group, made up of the remaining POWs and civilians, was transferred to the Japanese transport ship Montevideo Maru to be taken to Hainan, off the southern coast of China.  The carrier left Rabaul on 22 June.  The Montevideo Maru was not marked as  POW carrier.  The ship was torpedoed by the submarine USS Sturgeon.  It sank off the coast of the Philippines, near Luzon.  All 845 POWs and 209 civilians were killed, locked in the ship’s hold as it went down.  On 1 Jully 2012, 70 years after the tragedy, a memorial was unveiled in Canberra to honour the 1054 Australian prisoners who died aboard the Montevideo Maru.  The event remains Australia’s worst maritime disaster.

Please feel free to add your piece of history (something personal or general history).

Montevideo Maru c. 1941

Montevideo Maru c. 1941 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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