Japanese Naval Officer's Kai-gunto sword mountings : Lieutenant Kenshi Chuman, Midget submarine M27 Imperial Japanese Navy

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Sydney
Accession Number RELAWM30098.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club accessory
Physical description Animal hide, Brass, Cotton, Wood
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2: Aus Threat
Place made Japan
Date made c 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Japanese Navy officer's kai-gunto sword mountings. The hilt has standard Japanese Navy gilded brass fittings of a fushi (collar), kabuto-gane (pommel) and cherry blossom menuki (hilt ornaments) over black rayskin and under the brown handle binding. The guard is a plain blackened brass tsuba with two large seppa (spacer plates) of a sun ray pattern (one on each side) and four smaller seppa (two each side) with serrated edges. A brown sword tassel is attached to a webbing loop through the kabuto-gane. The scabbard is wood (the black lacquer has been removed) with gilded brass fittings to match the hilt. Two loose belt hanger rings are attached to the central bands. The hilt and scabbard are held together with a wooden keeper blade.

History / Summary

This hilt and scabbard were recovered with a blade (RELAWM30098.003) from the midget Japanese submarine sunk in Sydney Harbour near Bradley Head on the night of 31 May / 1 June 1942. The sword belonged to the submarine's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Kenshi Chuman.

On the evening of 31 May 1942, three Type A midget submarines pulled away from their large I-class 'mother' submarines about 15 kilometres east of Sydney - their mission to enter Sydney Harbour and sink Allied shipping there.

The first of the two-men submarines, commanded by Lieutenant Kenshi Chuman, entered the harbour at 8 pm. Although only the central section of an anti-torpedo boom net stretching from Georges Head to Green Point had been finished, Chuman's craft became entangled in it. It was detected by an alert harbour worker at 9:30 pm and located by harbour defence craft an hour later. Before it could be attacked, the crew, who had made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to break free, destroyed themselves and their craft by detonating its 35 kilogram scuttling charge.

The centre and rear sections of Lieutenant Chuman's midget submarine form part of the composite display at the Australian War Memorial.