A Parting Shot, the story of the shelling of Sydney and Newcastle by Japanese submarines on 8 June 1942, was launched at the Newcastle Maritime Centre on Thursday 17 January 2013 by the Hon. Peter Morris OAM. Guests included many Novacastrians who had a direct connection with the Japanese submarine bombardment and the east coast sea war that claimed many lives from the Hunter Region.
In three parts, A Parting Shot traces the story of the Japanese submarine shelling of Sydney and Newcastle—a story that until now, has not been fully told. Although casualties and damage were slight, the bombardments fuelled the real fear of an impending Japanese invasion. Revealing for the first time the contents of the bomb disposal squad war diary, the authors reconstruct events that occurred in both cities, including the search for, recovery and disposal of unexploded shells.
In his opening remarks, Mr Morris said Australia was in crisis in 1942– in fear– and at one stage in danger.
“Look to Prime Minister Curtin’s actions and determination to bring Australia’s troops home to defend our nation,” said Mr Morris.
The former Federal Minister for Transport focused on the Newcastle story and commented on the “forensic” detail of the book. He highlighted several points, including the revision down of the number of shells that were fired on Newcastle– from 34 to no more than 21 projectiles.
“The authors also dispel the myth that the shells were British-made, that they were redundant ordnance sold to Japan by Great Britain between the wars, and that poor communications and lack of autonomy were major civil and military defence failures during the Japanese attack,” he said.
No slouch in his own extensive knowledge of Newcastle history, Mr Morris admitted that he was unaware of the submarine scare that followed a week after the Japanese bombardment, until he read about it in A Parting Shot.
Commending the book to more than 70 guests, Mr Morris said A Parting Shot was not only an important book for Newcastle, but for the Nation.
Following light refreshments after the launch, guests were treated to a water display by a nearby tug boat testing the water cannons in preparation for the city’s Australia Day celebrations.
For further information contact the Newcastle Maritime Centre.
Images by Alan Khan Photography