20 Jan 1942 –Deloraine’s depth-charge attack

Artist Phil Belbin’s fine impression of Deloraine pressing home her attack on the I-124 (Naval Heritage Collection)
20 January 1942

On this day HMAS Deloraine’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Desmond Menlove wrote in his after action report of his engagement of Japanese submarine 1-124 in the Arafura Sea.

“ Ordered to proceed forthwith to position where submarine was sighted 0630 today by U.S Aircraft. Speed of 14 knots was attained At 1335. I moved out to starboard wing of bridge to give the orders to alter course to 323 degrees to close aircraft which had just been sighted. The starboard lookout Able Seaman O’Neill gave an alarm ‘TORPEDO APPROACHING GREEN 100’, and I ordered the helm to be put hard to starboard, and full speed on the engines. The ship responded quickly and the submarine’s torpedo passed 10 feet astern. When ordering full speed I also sounded off ‘ACTION STATIONS’

The submarine was then straight ahead by ASDIC contact at a range 2500 yards. Three planes were observed circling over position from which contact was obtained. One Catalina flying boat and two American float planes were indicating the position. At 1343 my attack was carried out with a pattern of depth charges.

After the explosions large oil and air bubbles were plainly seen. I altered to reciprocal course to make second attack.

At 1348 I fired a second pattern of two charges. The submarine surfaced showing her periscope and bow and listing at least 20 degrees to Port. Immediately I altered course to bring port depth charge thrower to bear on periscope and fired with charges setting for 100 feet.
One charge was observed to land no more than 50 feet from the periscope. The Submarine at that time was endeavouring to crash dive. Reports from the ASDIC showed that the contact was steady – indicating submarine was stationary and evidently on bottom.

LCDR Menlove was awarded the DSO for this action.

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