Montevideo Maru - Australia’s greatest maritime disaster.
It was - and remains - Australia's greatest maritime disaster: the loss of 1053 soldiers and civilians in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru on July 1, 1942. The men were captured by the Japanese when they invaded New Britain and New Ireland - then part of the Australian-mandated territory of New Guinea. Among them were the uncle of Labor identity Kim Beazley, the grandfather of Midnight Oils singer Peter Garrett and the brother of Australian Prime Minister Sir Earle Page.
They were being sent on the prison ship to Hainan, China, as slave labour, when the Montevideo Maru was sunk by an American submarine. The captain of the USS Sturgeon did not know Australian and Allied prisoners were on board. In eleven minutes on one night, twice as many Australians died as in the entire Vietnam War. However the tragedy is hardly known to the general public. The Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, in concert with the Papua New Guinea Association of Australian (PNGAA) aims to make the loss of the 1053 souls on the Montevideo Maru an important part of our national narrative - as it should be.
Montevideo Maru 1942 by Kylie Adams-Collier.
Written by Kylie Adams-Collier.
Performed at the 80th Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Commemorative Service. Australian War Memorial - 1st July 2022.
Video by Max Uechrtitz.
WW2 Lost at Sea Memorial Opening. 14th October 2017.
75th Rabaul & Montevideo Maru Comemorative Service & Tour. 2017.