The worst maritime disaster in Australian history

On 1 July 1942 the Montevideo Maru, carrying more than 1000 prisoners of the Japanese forces, most of them Australian, was sunk by an Allied submarine.

The prisoners had been captured in January 1942 by Japanese forces in Rabaul on New Britain, in the former Australian territory of New Guinea, and they were being transferred to Hainan, off southern China.

The Montevideo Maru was torpedoed off Luzon by the USS Sturgeon, unaware that it was carrying Allied prisoners. All the prisoners on board died. read more

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List of prisoners of war and internees

The National Archives of Australia has recently acquired what is reliably thought to be the most complete list of those on The Montevideo Maru when it was sunk in July 1942. The list is in two parts – Japanese and English. The Japanese part has the names of all Australian servicemen who were prisoners of war (POWS) and civilian internees on board – the English part lists the POWs. A translated copy of the Japanese list (entire list) is available to browse

The deaths on the Montevideo Maru were not fully revealed in Australia until after the end of the war. An Australian Army officer sent to Tokyo to investigate POW matters located a nominal list in Japanese of those on board when it sank. Expert historical opinion considers it likely that this recently-acquired list is a copy containing the same information. read more

Your memories

  • On one list = Cecil Howard Thies; same service number, battalion and company. read more
  • Born as WILFRED HENRY PHILLPOTT; B. P. employee. Married read more
  • Francis' brother Bernard Joseph ; VX24210; Aged 21; 2/22nd Infantry Battalion was taken POW and killed at TOL PLANTATION on 4 Feb 1942. read more

See all memories