On Saturday 7th of February 2004 a commemoration service was held at the newly opened POW memorial at Ballarat to unveil a memorial for all those who lost their lives on the Montevideo Maru. The memorial commemorates both the civilians and the soldiers who died when the ship was sunk on 1 July 1942.
to those who died on the
1st July 1942
On the 23rd January 1942, the Japanese invaded Rabaul on the island of New Britain and quickly defeated the small Australian Garrison - Lark Force
About 160 of the Australian soldiers who surrendered were massacred in February at Tol Plantation
On 22nd June 1942, the Japanese ordered 845 POWs and 208 civilian internees to board the Japanese ship, Montevideo Maru, for transport to Japan. The ship bore no markings to indicate that it carried POWs. The POWs were members of the 2/22 Battalion AIF, New Guinea Rifles, an Anti-Tank Battery, an Anti-Aircraft Battery, Coastal Defence Battery, a RAAF group and a detachment of the 2/20 Field Ambulance. (Uniquely, the members of the 2/22 Battalion Band were all members of Salvation Army Bands).
On 1st July 1942 an American submarine, the USS Sturgeon, attacked and sank the Montevideo Maru unaware that more than 1000 POWs were locked in its holds. There were no survivors. No indication of its sinking, or of the tragic loss of life was given by the Japanese Government.
The sinking of the Montevideo Maru is the largest maritime disaster in Australian History