Japanese Katana Sword Blade : Lieutenant Kenshi Chuman, Midget submarine M27 Imperial Japanese Navy

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Sydney
Accession Number RELAWM30098.003
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club
Physical description Silver, Steel
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2: Aus Threat
Place made Japan
Date made c 1600s
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Japanese katana sword blade. It is described by the Japanese sword polisher, Kotoken Kajihara in 1986 as, 'This particular work of SHIGETAKA was done in the second generation. Jihada is Mokume-hada and beautifully finished. In Hamon, Gunome Midare and Togari-ba in Seki style are mixed in it and beautifully arranged. This blade is particularly well finished. Sword name on the tang: Echizen Ju Harima Daijyo Fujiwara Shigetaka. Type : Katana. Shape: Shinogi-zukuri. Nakago: Ubu-Nakago. Jihada: Mokume-Hada. Hamon: Ko-Gunome-Midare. Boshi: Suguha. Length: 63.5cm. Curvature: 1.4cm. Province made: Echizen. Period: Kanbun era (about 1660 A.D.)'. The blade has been fitted with a new silver habaki.

History / Summary

This blade was recovered with a hilt and scabbard (RELAWM30098.001) 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 Chuma.

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 Chuma, 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, Chuma'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 Chuma's midget submarine form part of the composite display at the Australian War Memorial.