A unique naval battle in Australian waters
On Saturday 17 November 2018 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid a wreath at the memorial in Darwin to the Japanese sailors who died aboard the Japanese submarine I-124. Let us also remember the gallant RAN personnel aboard the Australian corvettes that went out to rescue the convoy and hunt the Japanese submarine.
Aboard the lead corvette HMAS Deloraine was Lieutenant Bruce Harvey, the ship’s anti-submarine equipment operator. Harvey’s skill with the revolutionary new equipment gave Deloraine the upper hand in a naval battle unique to Australian waters.
Sinking a submarine
On the 20 January 1942, just six weeks after the Pacific War began, the Japanese minelaying submarine I-124 was detected while attempting to attack a convoy entering Darwin Harbour. In the ensuing battle the submarine went down with all 80 crew members on board. The corvette HMAS Deloraine played a principal role in sinking it.
Manning Deloraine’s underwater detection equipment that day was 25-year-old Lieutenant Bruce Harvey. He had been a last-minute addition to the crew, but his skill with this new and largely experimental technology helped destroy the enemy craft.
Harvey, from Ashfield, Sydney, served in the 30th (NSW Scottish) Battalion while working as a clerk for an oil company. It was there that he met Cecilie Mansel-Dakyns, but their romance was interrupted by the war and Bruce’s enlistment in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. The couple eventually married while he was on leave in 1941.
Following the victory over I-124 Harvey was posted to Britain as an instructor. After the war they moved to Western Australia, with their three daughters. Bruce Johnston Harvey DSC died in 1970.