Souvenir : Small lead model Japanese midget submarine

Accession Number REL/21193.009
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Lead
Maker RAN Relief Fund and King George's Fund for Sailors
Place made Australia, Japan
Date made 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Small lead model Japanese midget submarine made from the ballast of the two submarines sunk during the raid on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. They measure 11.5 cm in length and feature the wording, `MADE FROM BALLAST JAP MIDGET SUB, SUNK IN SYDNEY HARBOUR, MAY 31, 1942'.

History / Summary

In 1943 a composite midget submarine made from parts of the two submarines recovered from Sydney Harbour were taken on a 4,000 kilometer tour to raise money for the war effort, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander John Sydney Bovrill, Royal Australian Navy. The tour visited Wagga, Benalla, Ballarat, across to Adelaide and along the Victorian coast to Melbourne then back to Sydney. Souvenirs and postcards of the submarines were sold along the way, and "Periscope certificates" issued to those who had taken a submariner's view of the world. The tour was a huge success, the exhibit drawing vast crowds. In Wagga for example, a city with a wartime population of between 11 and 12,000, over 6,000 visited the submarine. At the close of the tour, the remainder of the souvenirs were passed on consignment in late April 1943 to the Australian War Memorial, which received "40,989 glass wool envelopes, 99,010 postcards (sold in sets of 9) and 565 dozen miniature lead sub models." The glass wool had been used as insulation in the submarines. In a letter of 5 August 1943, Captain Gerard Muirhead-Gould noted "313 dozen lead subs and 25,000 postcards disposed of through Department of Information to USA for sale." Proceeds of the sale of the souvenirs went to the RAN Relief Fund and King George's Fund for Sailors.