Culture and heritage

Heritage of NSW

Funerals

On 3 June, eight of the sailors who died on the HMAS Kuttabul were buried at Rookwood Cemetery with full military honours.

The Royal Australian Navy continues to hold a memorial service each year in memory of the sailors who died on the HMAS Kuttabul on 1 June 1942.

On 9 June, the bodies of the Japanese submariners were cremated with full military honours at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium. Rear Admiral Muirhead-Gould justified his actions later in a radio broadcast:

I have been criticized for having accorded these men military honours … we hope may be accorded to our own comrades who have died in enemy hands: but I ask you,— should we not accord full honours to such brave men as these? It must take courage of the very highest order to go out in a thing like that steel coffin … How many of us are really prepared to make one-thousandth of the sacrifice that these men made?
(Extract from Steven Carruthers, 2006, p.215)

The ashes of the sailors were delivered to Japan, in October 1942. The funeral service for the midget submariners attracted widespread coverage in Japan.

Admiral Yamamoto promoted all the midget submariners two ranks, which meant their families received greater compensation for their loss.

Emperor Hirohito accorded them Hero God status, as he had for the submariners who carried out the attack on Pearl Harbour (except for Ensign Sakamaki who had been captured by American forces).

Page last updated: 31 August 2012