The above file has newspaper clippings from WW2 on the ship sinking.
2015 marks the 73rd anniversary of possibly Australia’s worst single wartime maritime tragedy, the loss of 1,049 servicemen and civilians when the Japanese ship on which they were being transported, the 7,267 ton Montevideo Maru, was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine SS Sturgeon before dawn off the Philippines coast on 1 July 1942. This was the subs fourth war patrol after leaving Fremantle on 5 June.
Montevideo Maru had left Rabaul the previous week and was on its way to Hainan Island in the South China Sea. It was packed with 849 Australian military personnel and 200 of our civilians, all intended for use as slave labour. The former were mainly from 2/22 Battalion, 1 Independent Company, the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) and other detached personnel. About 80 of this total were from the NGVR, 36 who had been on full-time duty and 44 classified as part-time. Although 20 Japanese sailors survived the event, only two eventually arrived in Manila, the remainder, including the captain, being killed by guerrillas.
Watching it all unfold was Rudy Buckley, a Brisbane resident and member of the NGVR and PNGVR Ex-members Association, and part of a family not evacuated from Rabaul prior to the Japanese occupation during January 1942. It was during this period he watched the Australians board the ill fated ship, one of whom, a Corporal O’Neill threw him a handkerchief with his Service Number and name on it. Later Rudy found this man’s full name was Barry Richard
David O’Neill, Service VX 19523, who was born 30 March, 1920 in Ararat,
Victoria. He enlisted 6 June 1940, was posted to the 2/22 Australian Infantry
Battalion and, of course, died 1 July 942.
This handkerchief and the full story of the Montevideo Maru are on display in the Association’s museum at Wacol, Brisbane.
In 1994 the NGVR and PNGVR Ex-members Association erected a memorial plaque in the Shrine of Memories, Brisbane Cenotaph to those lost on the Montevideo Maru. Each year since a commemorative service is held here on 1
July, with relatives, friends of the victims and others invited to attend. For some time this was the only such memorial, however another was dedicated at Ballarat in Victoria on 7th February 2004, where many of 2/22 Battalion enlisted.
This annual service is open to the public and is always held on the morning of the 1st July at the Hall of Memories, Brisbane Cenotaph, followed by morning tea in nearby premises.