1939 to 1945 - World War Two

From the advance across North Africa against Italian and German forces in 1941 and the fall of Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese in 1942, Australian troops of the Second AIF and later, the Militia, fought a long and gruelling war through North Africa, Syria, Greece, Crete, Malaya, New Guinea and the South-West Pacific.

Documents

The following material relates to the loss of the SS Montevideo Maru during World War Two.

The file below contains assorted information relating to the Montevideo Maru. The file also includes Major J Clark's list of those from the Rabaul Heavy Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, he believed to have been on the Montevideo Maru; an October 1945 report from Captain K Itagaki, Imperial Japanese Navy; International Red Cross Committee Reports; press clippings and numerous other miscellaneous reports, correspondence and contemporary investigations.

Please note this file is approximately 45 Mb in size so may take a moment to open or download.

This file represents an important source of information for researchers examining the Montevideo Maru tragedy. The AAHU wishes to note its sincere thanks to Harumi Sakaguchi and Keith Jackson for bringing this file to the attention of AAHU. 

Montevideo Maru Roll 1945 Initial Translation 
In Memory Lark Force and the Civilians of Rabaul 

This Roll has been placed here as a memorial to the Australians lost when the Japanese freighter Montevideo Maru was torpedoed off Luzon by USS Sturgeon on 1 Jul 1942. The ship was unmarked, and the US submariners had no way of knowing POWs were on board. 

The roll compiled by the Japanese in Rabaul contains the names Australian soldiers and civilians. Australian Army staff in Tokyo have added the names of a further 10 Australian soldiers believed, on the basis of other evidence, to have been on the Montevideo Maru. 

It is the first translation of a Japanese roll that was sent to Australia by Major H.S Williams of the Recovered Personnel Division on 3 Oct 1945. Major Williams had been sent to Japan after the surrender as part of the Australian effort to find out exactly what had happened to Australians captured by the Japanese. 

The Japanese Navy provided a roll of POWs in Rabaul which had been made in Japanese by transliterating the sound of European names into Japanese characters. This process was carried out in reverse by Major Williams' team. This gave the Service number of military personnel and a reasonable spelling of the name. 

Some serials in the roll are blank or marked "Member of RAN" or similar. In 1945 each Service was solely responsible for its own members. Once a person had been identified as coming from another Service, the details would have been passed to that Service with a "one of yours" note. The roll reproduced here was prepared as a purely Army administrative document, not as a comprehensive record of all Australian Service personnel in Rabaul. Army had a responsibility to report details of Australian civilians, hence the civilian roll being included. 

Once in Australia, this roll was compared to lists of people known to have been in Rabaul at the time of the Japanese invasion to confirm details of number and spelling of names. 

Please remember that this process of confirmation was carried out after this copy of the roll reached Australia. This copy should be expected to have some minor errors of spelling, initials/first names and Army numbers. 

There were confirmatory sources of information. The officers and nurses who had survived the invasion and initial capture were sent to Japan on a different ship and many survived the war. There were also Chinese and local native civilians who survived the war in Rabaul and were interviewed after the Japanese surrender in 1945. They provided witnesses to conditions in Rabaul and the loading of the Montevideo Maru.

The document is divided into high resolution Pdf files and can be accessed or downloaded from the links below.

There is further information available regarding the Montevideo Maru on the National Archives of Australia Website.

Address by Brigadier George Wootten

Brigadier Wootten commanded 18th Brigade through the siege of Tobruk and in the bitter campaign around Buna-Gona in 1942. He later assumed command of the 9th Division and commanded it in the Lae-Finschhafen and Tarakan campaigns. In his address (PDF, 25KB), Brigadier Wootten discusses Officers' responsibilities and duties.

Training Materials