"Clandestine Submarine landing party" a painting by Tronson du Coudray“ the missionary painter - is the basis of my first Anzac reflections.
The art work was specifically painted for Anzac Day and is a portrayal of the Japanese landing party that, according to the Moruya Examiner Newspaper, silently slipped onto Australian soil near Browlee, Moruya on the south coast of New South Wales in 1942.
We lived in Moruya between 1992 and 2006. During those years the local newspaper ran the story of the alleged landing on two occasions, although it acknowledged that this event has no official recognition, only local oral history to back it up.
It was Winston Churchill who said that in time of war, truth is so precious it needs to be protected by a multitude of lies, and therefore the likelihood that the story is actually true gains significant weight.
Darwin was bombed by the Japanese from February 1942 through to November 1943. Also, the Japanese fired shells into Newcastle in September 1942, and Sydney was attacked in May 1943.
In April 1942 the Japanese landed a party on Murray Island in North Queensland, and Japanese oil drums in 1942 were found at Mud Bay in Queensland and Redhead Beach near Newcastle. That same year are three of a list of 26 such incidents.
The Moruya landing party was believed to have been a special Japanese Army Unit that was highly trained in jungle warfare and surveying. It is alleged to have made its way from the coast, inland, finding a route up the Great Dividing Range adjacent to Clyde Mountain (where the current Kings Highway runs). The idea was to find a route in order for their army by pass populated areas so as to cut off Canberra, the nation's capital.
There are a number of interesting historical aspects to this story that could be construed as corroborating evidence.
First, when Gold was discovered at Araluen in 1872, west of Moruya, it was at Broulee that the goal prospectors and equipment was landed and they made their way through the dense coastal rain forest of the Australian bush, inland to the gold fields. In other words, finding a new way through the thick Australian bush has been done before, it was nothing new, a highly trained light Japanese reconnaissance group could have done this without too much difficulty.
Second, in the 1980's the Federal Government commissioned a surveyor group to find an alternative Freeway route from Moruya to the town of Braidwood over the Great Diving Range and avoiding the Clyde Mountain's Kings Highway due to its difficult topography. It would have halved the travelling time to Canberra from the south coast, to a neat one hour journey.
Although the survey was completed, nothing came of it due to lack of finances and local political considerations in that it would have cut out Batemans Bay as the major commercial centre of the Eurobodalla Shire. However, this illustrates that an alternative route without the steep grades of the Kings Highway was found.
The Japanese were highly skilled surveyors as illustrated by the railway their engineering teams surveyed along the infamous Burma-Thailand Railway in which so many Australians worked and died as slave labourers. Documentaries interviewing returned soldiers who worked on the railway acknowledge the Japanese ingenuity in this respect.
Australia was very blessed not to have been invaded by the Japanese, and that the nation has a great deal to be thankful for in that men and women gave their lives to ensure we remained a free people.
This painting "Clandestine Submarine landing party" therefore is 'soulful' and 'mystical' as it reminds us how sacred is the defence of our nation and how precious it is that Christians are free to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html