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“Montevideo Maru”

Very few of us have ever heard of the “Montevideo Maru” and yet it is listed as the nation’s worst ever maritime disaster.  

On the 22nd June 1942 the Japanese ordered 845 POW’s and 208 civilian internees held in Rabaul to be placed aboard for transportation to Japan .  Normally ships showed markings that they were carrying POW’s but in this case none were shown.  Nine days later, on the 1st. July 1942,  on its way to Hainan Island where it was meant to rendezvous with a Japanese destroyer it was intercepted, torpedoed and sunk by the American submarine “Sturgeon” not realizing there were over 1.000 prisoners locked in its hold.  

The Japanese Government gave no indication of the tragic loss of life or even of the sinking of this ship giving rise to rumours that these POW’s had never been on the ship but had been executed in Rabaul.  

Even though the circumstances of the sinking of the “Montevideo Maru” have been shrouded in mystery government reports have concluded that all of the Australians went down with the ship





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