Falling bombs and the rise of a nation : Catching submarines

in OCD2 years ago

A little while ago I announced a series I would do about the bombing of Darwin, Australia. I've done a couple posts so far and it's time for part three. You can find the other two by following the links part one and part two here.

Today I want to talk about the anti-submarine boom-net which was erected across Darwin harbour, obviously to protect shipping from the submarine and torpedo threat. src

Darwin wasn't a stranger to the submarine threat as enemy vessels were plying the waters long before World War Two began and certainly, since war was declared, the threat increased. The need to protect allied shipping within the harbour was real and so work on the anti-submarine net began around 1941 and it was operational by 1942.

The boom-net was a 5.6 kilometre net spanning the 3 kilometre harbour entry - It had to be that long so it could snake around and be flexible with the tides which in the area are 8 to 10 metre tides (8.7 to 10.9 yards). 5.6km is 3.4 miles and 3km is 1.86 miles in case you're wondering.

The net was constructed down in Newcastle, New South Wales and was installed and operated by young soldiers, not seasoned ones as they were overseas in various theatres of war around the globe. Those young soldiers monitored it 24 hours a day. Its construction and installation was a monumental effort and feat of engineering brilliance considering the huge tide in the area, however it was essential to protect the port, a strategic mooring for allied shipping.

The installation required incredibly heavy anchor-points on the east and west sides of the harbour with high-tensile steel rope cable running between. The ends ran through almost 8 metre high towers at each side and along its length across the harbour mouth were steel floats, cylindrical in shape, which kept the cable-span afloat.

From the floating surface-cable a heavy steel mesh netting hung reaching all the way to the bottom of the sea-bed, anchored/tethered to massive concrete blocks so it stayed in place. Naturally enemy submarines could not penetrate this heavy cable-net and so the harbour, the allied vessels, were protected.

It was operated by six boom-winch-ships, around the clock. Each float had two ships positioned there and when allied shipping needed to cross the boom-net they would winch a section of netting down allowing the ship to pass over before winching it back up once more.

The below diagram offers some perspective on how the opening and closing operation worked. src

The boom-net, manufacture, installation and operation was a massive undertaking and fortunately all that effort paid off with zero enemy submarines entering the harbour. Of course, the boom-net didn't prevent them from laying sea-mines and torpedoing shipping outside the net but losing that harbour, by having ships sunk within it, would have proven catastrophic to the allies plans.

On the 21st or 20th January 1942 the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Corvette, HMAS Deloraine, fired upon and sunk an Imperial Navy submarine, the I-124, outside of Darwin Harbour. It was one of at least three (probably four) submarines laying mines and torpedoing allied shipping in the area. The I-124 went down with all hands on board and lies on the bottom, untouched, outside the inlet to Darwin Harbour to this day; A watery grave for the poor brave souls within.

Coordiniates of the Sensuikan class Japanese submarine I-124 are:

12 degrees 07'12.320" S 130 degrees 06'23.619"E at the reasonably shallow depth of only 30.4 metres (100 feet). It is protected by a government-enforced and monitored exclusion zone of 1 kilometre. Trying to get to it would go badly for a person. Exactly why it is monitored to this day is a source for conjecture, but I may cover that in another post so you'll have to wait for it.

Interestingly, on the 19th February 1942, when the bombing raids commenced the ships that operated the boom-net were the first to be attacked. If the enemy attack had been an air and sea operation, and the boom-net didn't exist, the attacks would have had a much more catastrophic effect upon Australia and her allies. The harbour allowed limited movement for shipping and with 49 allied vessels at harbour that day...A couple of submarines in the harbour would have made a massive difference to the severity of the raids. Thanks to the boom-net that didn't happen.

The boom-net is thought to have been removed around 1947 although the massive winch and other machinery remained in place for much longer.

There's nothing to see of the boom net these days, I've been there and looked, although the winch used to remove and maintain sections has been restored and is situated at the Darwin Military Museum for all to see. It's a big thing for sure. Imagine the power required to haul that length of cable!

Much of the facts around what happened in Darwin in World War Two is classified, and much was destroyed. Fortunately a lot still survives and I find it fascinating to discover as many don't know anything about the extensive bombing raids over Australia. When we were in Darwin we toured these places where, even now, signs of the attack and devastation can be found.

Darwin is still very much a military installation and again, much about it is shrouded in secrecy, although I think it's cool we can look back and learn about what happened so many years ago, the stories around it, the hero's, victims and villains, and events that played out in the defence of this fine country of mine.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for part four.


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An original post written by a human
Discord: galenkp#9209 🇦🇺

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If it wasn't for people like you so much more of our history world be lost to time.

On an ordinary jaunt one day, my son and I stumbled upon what appeared to be a bunker in the overgrown forest between our house and the beach.

After further exploration we found more, and further solidified our theory that they are in fact bunkers.

Research has been slow, however, and fraught with obstruction- the area was even cordoned off and un-sciency "scientists" stationed, suddenly claiming they are saving the wetlands...

Alas, it has come to the attention of some very grumpy individuals that this kitten isn't a very good rule follower...

Oh I love me a good (conspiracy) adventure ;)

Alas, it has come to the attention of some very grumpy individuals that this kitten isn't a very good rule follower...

Oh I love me a good (conspiracy) adventure

You're singing my song here...Your stock just went up in my opinion. :)

I'm glad you seem to like my piece. I love history. There is so much there to learn, lessons we can take and use now and in the future...Any yet people just ignore it. Also, I find history more interesting than most of the cardboard people and fakeness of today. (Present company excluded of course.)

Thanks for reading. You may like to follow on my Kokoda Trail journey also...I started it last Sunday. A quick scroll back will find it.

You're stock just went up in my opinion. :)
~ *yes!

Thanks for the suggest- I'm definitely keeping my eye on you ;)

:) Thanks a lot, I hope you enjoy my blog. Probably not all of it will interest you but if a portion of it does then that's enough. Some is better than none.

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Intrigued by the secrecy alright. Perhaps there is no wreck down there and the attack was staged to easily blame on the Japanese as a false Flag of some sort?

There's a wreck. There was no need to stage anything in respect of the Japanese attacks. We were at war with the Japanese as were the allied forces as Japan had aligned themselves with the Nazi's and Italy. In fact, even as this Japanese submarine was sunk, my 6 year old father was living in Japanese-occupied Malaya under the brutal rule of the Japanese who had battled their way down the Malayan Peninsula to Singapore. I've written about this before.

The Japanese bombed Darwin for almost two years. In fact, the initial attack in February 1942 saw more bombs dropped on Darwin than they dropped when they attacked Pearl Harbour 10 weeks earlier. There's no denying the attacks, or the fact Japanese submarines were torpedoing allied shipping. The secrecy revolves around a completely different aspect which I will get into in later posts.

The Japanese waged a brutal sort of war. A good idea about how they waged war will come from reading about the Nanking Massacre which you can read about here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre

Here's an excerpt:

"The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing, alternately written as the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, was an episode of mass murder and mass rape committed by Imperial Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War."

"The massacre occurred over a period of six weeks starting on December 13, 1937, the day that the Japanese captured Nanjing. During this period, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants who numbered an estimated 40,000 to over 300,000 and perpetrated widespread rape and looting."

It's interesting that today many Japanese people do not know about all of this stuff. I guess because they lost the war and didn't want to teach the history to their people.

My sister in law is Japanese, (full Japanese) and I love her dearly...She has no idea of all of this history as it is simply not spoken of...Still, that it happened is undeniable. She is learning about it now though, to her credit.

I find history fascinating and have dedicated 40 years of my almost 50 absorbing and researching what I can. I find it fascinating and interesting to see the past. History is far more interesting than the present in my opinion.

I hope you manage to catch the post I make about the secrecy around that submarine.

Thanks for commenting.

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Nanjing Massacre
The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing, alternately written as the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, was an episode of mass murder and mass rape committed by Imperial Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The massacre occurred over a period of six weeks starting on December 13, 1937, the day that the Japanese captured Nanjing. During this period, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants who numbered an estimated 40,000 to over 300,000, and perpetrated widespread rape and looting.Since most Japanese military records on the killings were kept secret or destroyed shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945, historians have been unable to accurately estimate the death toll of the massacre. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo estimated in 1946 that over 200,000 Chinese were killed in the incident.



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Very good staying tuned for part four.

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Thanks mate, I appreciate that. I hope these are coming across as at least a little informative and interesting.

Howdy sir galenkp! What an amazing feat of engineering design and manufacture to get that net in place and operate it in such a way, incredible. Do you know how large the cables that formed the net were? How big in circumference?

Hmm, that's a good question...I believe the official measurement was actually bloody huge!

I'll have to look it up to be honest. I would say probably forearm-sized in diameter though I guess.

That would be my wild-ass guess too. lol. Surely they have a section of it in a museum or somewhere?

None of the cable or net survives, only the winch like I mentioned in the post. I have seen the anchor point on one side of the harbour though, and even then not much remains.

That thing was so massive that I figured someone had a piece of it somewhere. Too bad but stuff happens.

I think it got recycled...Post war stuff was at a premium i guess so they needed to make use of what was available.

Yeah that makes perfect sense sir galenkp.

It happened a lot all around the world actually. The wherewithal left over from war got recycled. I guess it still happens. I'm on the scout for a surplus cruise missile, guidance system and nuke warhead myself actually...😂🙈

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