Submarine Attack on Newcastle Revisited
During March 2015, an acquisition arrived into the Fort’s collections that caused a ripple of great excitement.
An email was received from a member of the public about an item that was held by a local family that the Society may be interested in obtaining. The offer was immediately considered by the Committee and steps were taken to negotiate a transfer to the main collection.
Brief Summary: The Star Shell Flare and Parachutes
During the attack on Newcastle on the 8th June 1942, Japanese Navy submarine 1-21commenced a short and furious bombardment of the city. The bombardment was launched from the sub’s main 5.5 inch deck gun and consisted of eight illuminating star shells and twenty six high explosive rounds. The result was that only three shells actually exploded within the port’s precincts resulting in only minor damage and injury.
That is the known story of events that night, as mentioned, star shells were fired to illuminate the scene for the sub’s gun crew, these were fired around the port precincts and environs landing randomly and during this event a Warden was on duty in the city and noticed a star shell coming down under its parachute (see image above).
The landing location is lost to history, but the star shell and its parachute were recovered by the Warden and duly taken as booty. Parachutes were greatly favoured for womens’ “knickers” due to the silk content of the canopy.
Seventy three years later that “prize” has been added to the Fort’s collection and now takes pride of place along with the original High Explosive (H.E). shell also currently held in the collection. After recording, the star shell will be readied for display and with the H.E.shell, will join the ranks of some of Australia’s rarest militaria of that desperate era in our history.