New Zealand Minesweepers Sink an Enemy Sub – Intermission Story (19)

Kiwi attacking the I-1 submarine

A story I failed to locate from 1943.

By early 1943 the ships of the New Zealand minesweeping flotilla were patrolling along the Guadalcanal coast. The Americans had landed successfully, but Japanese land, air and sea forces held footholds and were still contesting the islands. Although the destroyers of the nocturnal ‘Tokyo Express’ were still active, the Bird-class ships’ usual targets were small craft and submarines attempting to land troops and supplies.

Lt.Cmdr. Peter Phipps, HMNZNS Moa

On the night of 29 January Kiwi and Moa were patrolling along Kamimbo Bay, on the north-western corner of Guadacanal, when Kiwi detected a submarine. It made a depth charge attack, but then lost contact. Kiwi continued to attack and on its third run, the damaged submarine surfaced and attempted to fight it out.

On paper it was two-to-one, but the Japanese sub I-1 was a formidable opponent. At 2135 tons surfaced, the Type J1 class were one and a half times bigger than Moa and Kiwi combined. Undamaged, the sub could outrun them by about five knots. The I-1’s 140-mm gun had greater range and hitting power than the New Zealand ships’ 102-mm guns, and it also had powerful torpedoes. No wonder that to the Kiwi’s crew in the dark, the Japanese shells sounded ‘like an express train going through’.

Lt. Comdr. Gordon Brisdon, HMNZNS Kiwi

In confined waters the Kiwi’s commander, Lieutenant-Commander Gordon Brisdon, decided to get in close to negate some of the sub’s advantages. But that meant braving a hail of fire from light-calibre weapons. Japanese machine-guns bullets sprayed the Kiwi, mortally wounding Acting Leading Signalman C.H. Buchanan. In pain and bleeding, he remained at his post, lighting up the sub for the gunners with his searchlight.

With a crunching sound, the Kiwi rammed the I-1 right behind the conning tower. Locked together, the vessels continued to blaze away at each other with light weapons. Twice more Brisdon pulled his ship away from the huge submarine only to ram it again, badly damaging his opponent and crumpling his own bows. When Kiwi’s main gun overheated, Moa took over, chasing the submarine until it ran aground on a reef.

The wreck of Japanese sub I-1

This information comes directly from the New Zealand history website.  By clicking on the links additional information can be acquired.

Critical codes remained on board the submarine and the Japanese command tried unsuccessfully to destroy the boat with air and submarine attacks.  The US Navy reportedly salvaged code books, charts, manuals, the ship’s log and other secret documents.

I-1 sub’s deck gun, now sitting in Torpedo bay Navy Museum.

The sinking of the Japanese submarine was only one of the contributions made by New Zealand to the defeat of Japan in the Pacific. The sinking of I-1 remains one of the proudest moments in New Zealand naval history.

Click on images to enlarge.

#####################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Alto ‘Bud’ Adams – St.Lucie County, FL; US Navy, WWII

Colin Bennett – Gisborne, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 46820, WWII

Allan Cameron – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Army # 459507, WWII, SSgt.

Vivian King (102) – New Plymouth, NZ; 27 NZ(MG)BTN # 42512, WWII, Sgt.

John Pay – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, PTO

Henry ‘Joe’ Sargeant – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Harry Dean Stanton – W.Irvine, KY; US Navy, WWII

Bruce Stott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 10517, WWII

Hugh Turnbull (103) – Wellington, NZ; British Army ONZM # 129228, WWII, artillery

Jason Woodworth – Kea’au, HI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

#####################################################################################

Advertisements

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 25, 2017, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 90 Comments.

  1. The sorry part of this story is that the New Zealand and perhaps the British were negligence in recognizing the effort of Acting Leading Signalman C.H. Buchanan; he got an M.I.D. (Mention in Despatches) no other acknowledgement for his bravery. Some have received the VC for less.

    At least the US recognized it by awarding him the US Navy Cross, posthumous though it may have been it was justifiable recognition for a very brave young man

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never knew that ramming was a widespread tactic employed in modern ship warfare. You’d really have to think twice about doing it as it would obviously damage your own vessel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think ramming is a preferred tactic, for that very reason. But the minesweepers had little else to work with. Necessity is the mother of invention.

      Like

      • Ramming may not have been preferred then, but in the Civil War they thought it quite successful. The Mississippi Ram Boats were used extensively by North and South to keep the enemy from receiving their supplies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very true, Bev. That whole scenario of the Civil War was forgotten in that “Black Hole” of a brain of mine.
          [I call it my black hole because everything goes in – but very rarely does anything want to come out!!]

          Like

  3. I love the paratroopers prayer. My uncle Thomas , a lifetime military man, was a paratrooper , a master Sargeant he was tough but I never saw that side of him. Thank you so much GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here’s something funny GP. My daughter just had a lesson on how the New Zealanders were nicknamed Kiwis by “foreign” soldiers during the war …all because they wore the flightless Kiwi on their uniforms.
    Hey, I don’t know how accurate this is but it was in the reading for Lady J’s 6th grade geography course 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Weer een boeiende verhaal waar ik echt niets van af wist

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a feeling that statistically the New Zealanders were the most decorated section of the RAF during the conflict. They were certainly pretty determined to get that sub.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve covered this story in more than one of my books – particularly in the 60th anniversary history I wrote of the RNZN where the navy gave me access to eyewitness accounts. It was a tremendous engagement and true heroism on the part of both commanders and their crews. My ex-wife’s brother (the RNZN’s official artist) did a formal painting of the moment. To me the action pretty much sums up the Kiwi spirit.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What an incredible story. Like so many others, I have little knowledge or understanding of Australia and New Zealand’s role in the war. Now that I follow some bloggers from that area of the world, I’ve learned more, but the details you provide really are wonderful — even if the experiences weren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That you so very much for your interest, Linda. It is such a pleasure to post these stories when I have a reader such as yourself who actually wants to know what happened out there.

      Like

  9. I was told by one present at the time of the salvaging of that gun that he had a bright idea, and to the bods wielding the ‘gas axe’ mentioned that the sub was engaged in action at the time it ended up aground … they got the message and checked, and there was indeed an unfired round in the breech …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks, GP. A great story that more should read.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As someone who panics in any tight space, I have high respect for submarine personnel!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. As always, G, a moving tale full of bravery. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Like the fact that New Zealand is proud of their contributions to WWII, and maintains a website to keep their history alive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • They are about the only country where most of the obituaries include their service numbers – they have every reason to be proud and they show it [in both life and death]!! Thanks for stopping by, Bev!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • The NZ History website is government funded and run – I know the key people responsible for it (some of them long-standing friends in the field). It’s a tremendous resource and can be relied on for its impartial accuracy, the research that has gone into it is excellent.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for confirming that for the readers. I have been into the site quite often and always find it to be reliable, although sometimes shy of detailed information. On this story – they came through above and beyond!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Very interesting. I never hear about Australia or New Zealand’s contribution to the war effort. Except from your site. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. It’s frightening to attack another vessel with your own vessel. That’s not only couragous — it is beyond gutsy!

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Great story, GP – and it’s good to see your hat tip to the Kiwis, here! We in the U.S. tend to think of the Pacific war as being only the U.S. against Japan when in fact, the Anzacs played a very important part in bringing Japan to its knees.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Most certainly! I have often had trouble finding such stories or there would be more.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The New Zealand government was eager to contribute in the Pacific – where we had seen threat from Japan since before the First World War – and began by opening up the country in 1942 for the US to use as the supply base for the Solomons campaign and foundation for the US efforts against Tarawa, among other islands – the bases were primarily in the Wellington district and are marked today with memorial plaques and interpretation boards. The US service presence here has become part of our history! NZ’s own direct contribution was limited by manpower restrictions but extended to providing a two-brigade division (1943-44), air power (fighter squadrons and a/s aircraft, flying boats and light bombers) and ultimately the whole of our effective naval strength (much of which was expended) along with a very substantial contribution to logistics. That included monolithic quantities of tinned “M&V” rations for the whole Pacific theatre, much of which were produced from a factory in Hawke’s Bay. The issue the government faced was that manpower was insufficient to do all this AND continue to field a full division plus air forces in Europe, and by negotiation the decision was taken to maintain the naval and air but not the land forces in the Pacific, this enabling the logistics support to continue unabated in the 1944-45 season. (That decision was also informed in part by the politics of the Pacific war.)

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Fabulous story. Keep ’em coming. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  18. What a story of bravery and courage on the part of the NZ mine sweepers! With such a formidable enemy the captains could have easily decided to withdraw from the fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. This is another tale that would make a terrific underdog movie, with these ships punching above their weight and winning.”Ramming speed!!” says the captain.
    I knew that WWII subs still had deck guns, but didn’t realize they were cannons of that size.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Excellent story! It is always important to remember the allies who have stood by the U.S. in times of trouble.

    A few years later, but my Uncle, Kenneth Klippel, served on a minesweeper off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Not exactly glorious duty and often very much … the unsung heroes!

    As far as the NFL, I have never been a big Dallas Cowboys fan, but I think I may have to start. I will not watch any team whose players will not stand for the national anthem!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for reading the article, DC.

      My opinion on the NFL – I believe in freedom speech, most of us do. But I also believe in decorum and a time and place for everything – a football field during your National Anthem is NOT the correct venue. These overpaid though highly athletic men become idols for children and adults alike, they should limit their political ideas to their private lives. It is confusing how they defy the flag and the anthem, but will applaud a serviceman who fights for it. My son died a Marine and I personally take their actions as a slap on his memory.

      Liked by 3 people

  21. I could just visualize the ship ramming into the sub—it sounds like something you’d see in a movie, not real life. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. A story of courage. Thanks for posting it.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Brave men, and good to see many such men acknowledged in the farewell salutes.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. What a great story. I can only imagine what that sounded like and what it must have felt like when the ships were locked together. I’m trying to think of the courage involved in realizing that, in order to survive, you were going to have to get closer.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Always good to know more about our Australia and New Zealand allies’ contributions to victory in WWII, and you’ve been good about writing about these forces. I think we Americans sometimes forget we had allies during the war who fought and died with us, sometimes with even greater losses. Australia and New Zealand have been with us on many fronts since WWI.

    Liked by 6 people

  26. Thank you for sharing a part of Allied history showing bravery and what it means to go above and beyond.

    Like

  1. Pingback: FEATURED WRITER: New Zealand Minesweepers Sink an Enemy Sub – Intermission Story (19) | ' Ace Worldwide History '

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: