With a belch of exhaust from her diesels, Type IXC-40 U-Boat
U530 edges away from Japanese C3 Class submarine I52, as two
in a rubber dinghy make their way back to their boat. It is June 23rd 1944
and we are in mid-Atlantic. Undoubtedly - there must be
skulduggery afoot !
And, as we all now know.....there was !
I52 was what has
now (to some) become known as "Japan's Golden Submarine". Her mission
was codenamed "Momi" ("Evergreen" or "Fir Tree", in
Japanese); her destination was Lorient, in German-occupied France.
brand-new "C3" class boat,
this was her maiden voyage. She was carrying a strategically important cargo
of essential rubber and other raw materials, several civilian engineers and
on loan to Germany, a crew of nearly one hundred,
....and two tons of gold.
In the late evening of June 23 she made rendezvous with the German
boat U-530 which transferred to her a "Naxos" radar installation, two
technicians to install it,
and a pilot to get her safely in to Lorient. The two boats parted, and
slipped away into the night...
U-530, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Kurt
Lange, wisely submerged to continue her patrol to the Caribbean.
With a false sense of security, perhaps brought about by the moonless night,
Commander Uno Kameo of the I52 did not.
Please note the original painting
and all prints are signed by the artist.
In truth, both submarines had
been tracked by the allies, and within hours
the Japanese boat had been found by aircraft from (...the remarkably
USS Bogue. She was depth charged, and then torpedoed, to sink with a
total loss of 109 Japanese and three German lives.
In 1995, American Paul Tidwell finally located and filmed her wreck -
starting a whole new story (with which many of us are now familiar) - which
goes on to this day. As a consequence
the wreck is now an official Japanese War Grave site.
....And the two
tons of gold ?
Still there..."up for grabs"...if you want it...! But,
you had better check
with Tidwell, the Japanese Government, and a few others, first....
Oh yes...and the U-530...?
Didn't get a scratch on her.
Carried on working for another year...and didn't
even surrender at the end of the war !
She put into Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires,
Argentina in 1945, and handed herself over to neutral authorities.......
information on the story of U530 and other U-boats in the Far East
can be found in Lawrence Paterson's book: "Hitler's Grey Wolves
- U-boats in the Indian Ocean"