"KOWARRA" SUNK BY JAPANESE SUBMARINE I-26
OFF FRASER
ISLAND ON 24 APRIL 1943

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visits since 6 April 2003

The Australasian Steam Navigation Company vessel, "Kowarra", of 2125 tons was on its way to Brisbane after leaving Bowen, when it was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-26 on 24 April 1943 off Fraser Island. There was the tragic loss of 21 lives, including the master of the vessel, Captain D. McPherson. 11 survivors were picked up by a subchaser from the 7th Fleet, US Navy. It was one of two Subchasers escorting a convoy from Brisbane to Townsville

It was by sheer chance that the subchaser had located the survivors of this sinking. The subchaser had been sent back by Lt. Sweet, the commander of the other subchaser SC 738, to round up a straggler in the convoy. The other SC initially headed in the wrong direction and after some furious signalling by Sweet's SC 738, the other SC had turned around to head towards the straggler, the "Van Vlissenberg".

At around this time, Lt. Sweet noticed that the other SC had stopped and come about. The other SC then signalled "Am picking up survivors. Request permission to search for more."

Lt. Sweet on SC 738 suddenly realised that the other SC must have been picking up survivors from a ship that had been sunk by a Japanese submarine. Sweet was concerned that the Japanese submarine may have still been in the area. He signalled back "How long". The reply came back "Thirty Minutes" and he responded "Permission granted". While the other SC picked up survivors, SC 738 escorted the rest of the convoy. Sweet ordered the ship to General Quarters and increased speed to increase its patrol area. They closely monitored their sound gear and were on the lookout for any periscopes.

"Kowarra" had been built in Sunderland, United Kingdom in 1916.  

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Splinter Fleet - The Wooden Subchasers of World War II"
by Theodore R. Treadwell

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ted Treadwell for his kind assistance with this home page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 6 October 2003

This page last updated 18 June 2005