In the gardens in Ballarat there is the Prisoners of War Memorial. It is a spectacular and moving memorial to ALL known Australian Prisoners of War since the Boer War (1899 – 1902). I will post something more about the Memorial. For now I want to talk about a small, but significant, memorial which is a part of the whole complex.
I could write a lot about this, but I will let the memorial speak for itself. On the 1st of July, 1942 the Japanese Transport ship the SS Montevideo Maru was sunk. This Saturday is the 75th anniversary of the sinking.
Below is a transcript of the face of the memorial.
To Those Who Died On The
1st July 1942.
On the 23rd January 1942 Japanese forces invaded Rabaul, on the island of New Britain and quickly defeated the small Australian garrison – Lark Force.
About 160 of the Australian soldiers who surrendered were massacred in February, at Tol plantation.
On 22nd June 1942, the Japanese ordered 852 Australian prisoners of war and 208 civilian internees to board the Japanese ship, Montevideo Maru, for transport to Japan. The ship bore no markings to indicate that it carried prisoners of war.
The prisoners of war included members of 2/22nd Battalion. 1st Independent Company, Fortress Artillery, Engineers, Signal Units, No. 17 Anti/Tank Battery, Anti/Aircraft Battery, No. 19 Special Dental Unit; Detachments from: New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, 2/10 Field Ambulance, Ordinance Corps, 8 Division Supply Column, Canteen Services HQ NG Area, Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. The 2/22 Battalion bandsmen were all members of Salvation Army Bands.
On 1st July 1942 an American submarine, the USS Sturgeon, attacked and sank the Montevideo Maru unaware that more than 1000 prisoners of war were locked in the holds.
There were no survivors – no indication of the sinking, nor of the tragic loss of life, was given by the Japanese government.
The sinking of the Montevideo Maru is the largest maritime disaster in Australian history.
This photograph shows only a small part of the memorial but I am using it because it shows the small black stone on the left. This is the Montevideo Maru Memorial. And below a close up.
I will search further through my photos for more on the complete POW Memorial. Unfortunately most of my photos of the Memorial are locked away for the time being. Perhaps I will have to get back and take them all again.