Souvenir piece of brass pipe : Japanese Midget Submarine, Sydney Habour, 1942

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Sydney
Accession Number REL30501
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass; Cardboard
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia, Japan
Date made c 1941-1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Souvenir piece of brass tubing approximately 10 mm in diameter, displaying saw cuts at each end. A manilla card label has been tied to the souvenir with a loop of string and reads 'A Guaranteed Souvenir from the Japanese Midget Submarine Sunk in Sydney Harbour, Sunday, May 31st, 1942. Proceeds to R.A.N. Relief Fund and King George's Fund For Sailors. July 30, 1942.' Written in ink on one corner of the label is "6d".

History / Summary

Small pieces of the two Japanese midget submarines sunk in Sydney Harbour after their attack on shipping on 31 May 1942 were sold to raise funds as part of a national tour. Each souvenir was sold with a certificate of authentication. This example sold for sixpence. 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.