(I-156 - colorized photo)

IJN Submarine I-156: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 7

3 November 1926:
Kure Navy Yard. Laid down as a Type KD3B class submarine.

10 September 1928:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Kouda Takero (41) (former CO of RO-29) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

23 March 1928:

31 March 1929:
Kure Navy Yard. I-56 is completed and registered in the IJN. Attached to Kure Naval District. Assigned to SubDiv 19 on 1 April. LtCdr Kouda Takero is the Commanding Officer.

5 November 1929:
LtCdr (promoted Cdr 30 November; later Rear Admiral) Yoshitomi Setsuzo (39)(former CO of I-61) is appointed the CO.

30 November 1929:
SubDiv 19 is reassigned to SubRon 2, Second Fleet.

1 December 1930:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Ishizaki Noboru (42)(former CO of I-55) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1931:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Hattori Kunio (47)(former CO of RO-18) is appointed CO.

26 March 1932:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Saito Eisho (42)(current CO of I-57) is appointed the CO of I-56 as additional duty.

1 June 1932:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Okushima Takasaburo (44) (current CO of I-122) is appointed the CO of I-56 as additional duty.

1 November 1932:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Kume Ikuji (46)(former CO of I-52) is appointed the CO.

22 October 1934:
LtCdr Okushima Takasaburo (44)(former CO of I-52) is appointed the CO (his second tour as the CO of that boat).

3 July 1935:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Tsuzuki Noboru (48)(former CO of I-121) is appointed the CO.

15 November 1935:
SubDiv 19 is reassigned to SubRon 1, First Fleet.

18 December 1935:
Kure harbor. At 0650, when a boat from I-56, carrying its liberty party, returns to the submarine, it is caught by a sudden gale and capsizes. LtCdr Tsuzuki and four engineers are found to be missing; after daybreak a single survivor is rescued. LtCdr Tsuzuki is promoted Cdr, posthumously.

26 December 1935:
LtCdr (later Captain) Nishino Kozo (48)(former CO of RO-61) is appointed the CO.

27 February 1936:
32 miles SE of Daiosaki lighthouse, Honshu. During naval maneuvers, I-56 and I-53 collide at 1016 while proceeding surfaced in limited visibility. Both submarines receive minor damage.

1 December 1937:
Cdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Iwagami Eiju (46) (former CO of I-5) is appointed the CO.

29 June 1938:
Cdr (later Captain) Minakuchi Hyoe (46)(former XO of SHIRIYA) is appointed the CO.

15 December 1938:
LtCdr (later Capt) Hatanaka Sumihiko (49)(former CO of I-68) is appointed the CO.

15 November 1939:
SubDiv 19 is reassigned to SubRon 4, First Fleet.

20 November 1939:
LtCdr (later Captain) Yamada Kaoru (50)(former CO of I-123) is appointed the CO.

31 July 1941:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Ohashi Katsuo (53)(former CO of RO-61) is appointed the CO.

November 1941:
I-56 is in Rear Admiral Yoshitomi Setsuzo's SubRon 4 in Captain Ota Nobunosuke's SubDiv 19 with I-57 and I-58.

1 December 1941:
Departs Samah, Hainan Island, China on what will be her first war patrol.

7 December 1941:
I-56 sights and attacks a Dutch submarine (probably LtCdr Henri C. Besançon's K-XVII) off the east coast of Malaya, but misses.

11 December 1941:
I-56 shells and sinks the 1,186-ton Norwegian merchant HAI TUNG en route from Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand) to Singapore with a cargo of rice and general supplies at 05-08N, 104-32E with all of her 50-man crew.

14 December 1941:
In early morning, the hydrophone operator on LtCdr Henry C. J. Coumou's Dutch submarine K-XII picks up a faint trace of propellers. About 1100 hours, a periscope is sighted to starboard. Coumou heads straight for it in an attempt to ram the adversary. K-XII gets to within 100 metres. Suddenly, the enemy's periscope appears to port! LtCdr Coumou gives up his attack and zig-zags away.

20 December 1941:
I-56 arrives at Camranh Bay, Vichy French Indochina.

28 December 1941:
Departs Camranh on her second war patrol to form a picket line against Allied shipping in the area of Tjilatjap, Java.

4 January 1942:
Indian Ocean, S of Java. I-56 shells and sinks the 2,626-ton British freighter KWANGTUNG at 09-12S, 111-10E.

5 January 1942:
40 miles SE of Tjilatjap. Early in the morning, I-56 surfaces and shells 8,169-ton Dutch merchant TANIMBAR. TANIMBAR fires back and Ohashi dives to escape damage.

8 January 1942:
80 miles SW of Tjilatjap. Around 0600 in the morning I-56 torpedoes the 3,032-ton Dutch steamer VAN REES, independently en route from Tjilatjap to Emmahaven. After receiving one hit to the engine room where six sailors are killed, the steamer develops a list to port and goes down at 07-53S, 106-11E. I-56 surfaces and LtCdr Ohashi questions the survivors regarding their cargo and destination.

Around 2100, I-56 shells and sinks 2,263-ton Dutch passenger ship VAN RIEBEECK at 08-11S, 108-47E. Thirteen sailors are killed in the attack, the survivors are rescued by the Dutch minelayer Hr.Ms. WILLEM VAN DER ZAAN.

12 January 1942:
Off Bali. In the afternoon, I-56 fires a torpedo at 2,065-ton Dutch merchant PATRAS en route from Surabaya to Tandjong Priok (Batavia), Java. PATRAS' skipper spots and manages to dodge the torpedo. LtCdr Ohashi surfaces and opens fires with his deck gun. PATRAS tries to outrun the sub at her maximum speed of 13 knots, but is hit several times in the stern and a fire starts.

Suddenly, a Dutch Dornier Do-24K patrol plane appears. Ohashi crash-dives, but the plane had no depth charges. After the Dornier departs, I-56 again surfaces and fires two fragmentation shells at PATRAS as she approaches the harbor at Banjoewangi. The damage to PATRAS is minor, no one is killed, but some crewmen are wounded.

18 January 1942:
Returns to Camranh.

31 January 1942:
Departs Camranh on her third war patrol off the Sunda Strait with the "A" Group. Refuels at Anambas advanced base, then navigates the Lombok Channel.

2 February 1942:
Arrives at the southern entrance to the Sunda Strait.

4 February 1942:
Southern entrance to Sunda Strait. I-56 shells and damages the 979-ton Dutch merchant TOGIAN, steaming with convoy JS.1, bound for Singapore that departed Colombo the previous day. TOGIAN is later scuttled at Koepang.

8 February 1942: The Invasions of Sumatra and Java, Netherlands East Indies:
Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Netherlands East Indies Eastern Force invades Bali (19 February). The Western Force under Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo (former CO of HARUNA), together with an airborne assault, captures the oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra (14 February), then lands troops at Bantam Bay, Merak and Eretenwetan and takes the capital of Batavia (5 March).

11 February 1942:
LtCdr Ohashi reports an attack on an Allied merchant off the southern entrance to the Sunda Strait in the area 07S, 105E.

21 February 1942:
I-56 arrives at Staring Bay at Kendari, Celebes for repairs and reprovisioning.

5 March 1942:
I-56 departs Staring Bay for the area off Tjilatjap, Java on her fourth patrol.

9 March 1942:
I-56 spots the 30-ft lifeboat SCORPION, carrying a group of twelve Allied airmen led by RAF No 84 Sqn. Wing Commander John R. Jeudwine, escaping from Tjilatjap, Java to Roebourne, Western Australia. LtCdr Ohashi orders to surface and personally observes the lifeboat from binoculars before letting it to pass on. [1]

10 March 1942:
SubRon 4 is disbanded. I-56 is reassigned to SubRon 5 in SubDiv 19 with I-57 and I-58.

12 March 1942:
I-56 returns to Staring Bay.

13 March 1942:
Departs Staring Bay for Kure.

20 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

14 May 1942:
Departs Kure for Kwajalein.

20 May 1942:
I-56 is renumbered I-156.

24 May 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

26 May 1942:
Departs Kwajalein on her fifth war patrol. SubRon 5 is deployed between 28-20N, 162-20W and 26-00 N, 165W.

4 June 1942:
Operation MI - The Battle of Midway:
Vice Admiral Komatsu orders the 15 submarines in the patrol line to move westwards.

5 June 1942:
Admiral (Fleet Admiral posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku, CINC, Combined Fleet, aboard the flagship YAMATO, orders Komatsu to deploy his submarines between the retreating Japanese fleet and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Raymond A. Spruance's carriers. I-156's patrol line moves gradually NNW, traveling at 3 (by day) to 14 knots (by night).

550 miles E of Midway. About 0400 (I), I-156 sights fleet oiler USS GUADALUPE (AO-32), escorted by two destroyers, but fails to reach a favorable firing position. Except for I-168, I-156 is the only submarine that makes a contact with the enemy fleet during the battle.

20 June 1942:
Returns to Kwajalein.

22 June 1942:
Departs Kwajalein for Kure.

30 June 1942:
Arrives at Kure. Lt (later Captain, JMSDF) Orita Zenji (59)(former torpedo officer, I-15) is appointed the CO.

20 July 1942:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral, JMSDF) Sekido Yoshimitsu (57) (former CO of I-152) is appointed CO.

15 October 1942:
Lt (promoted LtCdr 1 November; Cdr, posthumously) Yonehara Minoru (59)(former torpedo officer of I-8) is appointed the CO.

10 July 1942:
SubRon 5 is disbanded. I-156 is reassigned in the Kure Naval District to SubDiv 19 with I-157, I-158 and I-159. I-156, I-157 and I-158 are also reassigned as training boats to the Kure Submarine School.

16 March 1943:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Teramoto Iwao (59)(former CO of RO-59) is appointed the CO.

11 May 1943: American Operation "Landcrab"- The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's Task Force 51, lands the Army's 7 th Division that captures Attu Island, Aleutians.

21 May 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Kiska:
The Imperial General Headquarters decides to abandon Attu and evacuate the garrison at Kiska Island, Aleutians. I-156 is temporarily attached to the Kiska Evacuation Force with the Northern District Force, Fifth Fleet's SubRon 1: I-2, I-7, I-21, I-24, I-34, I-36, I-155, I-157, I-168, I-169 and I-171.

22 May 1943:
Departs Kure for Yokosuka.

23 May 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

26 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Paramushiro.

26 May 1943:
The evacuation from Kiska to Paramushiro Island, Kuriles via submarines begins. I-156 makes one run to Kiska.

29 May 1943:
I-156 is temporarily attached to the Kiska Evacuation Force with the Northern District Force.

1 June 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

2 June 1943:
Oiler TEIYO MARU refuels I-156, I-21, I-7, I-155 and I-157.

4 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro on her first supply run to Kiska, carrying three tons of ammunition and two tons of food.

15 June 1943:
Arrives at Kiska but has to submerge immediately after arrival to evade an air attack. Unloads her cargo and embarks 60 passengers, then departs for Paramushiro.

20 June 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

21 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for Kure.

26 June 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

28 June 1943:
Reattached to Kure Naval District.

28 July 1943:
The Japanese complete the evacuation of Kiska.

1 January 1944:
I-156 is in the Kure SubRon's SubDiv 19 with 1-157, I-158 and 1-159.

31 January 1944:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Kamimoto Nobuo (56)(former CO of RO-31) is appointed the CO.

11 October 1944:
Cdr Kono Masamichi (52)(former CO of I-37) is appointed the CO.

24 October 1944:
LtCdr Yamane Hajime (61)(former CO of I-122) is appointed the CO.

1 April 1945:
Reassigned to SubDiv 34.

May-August 1945:
I-156 is configured to carry two "Kaiten" human torpedoes. She makes three transport runs carrying kaiten from Ozushima to shore bases along the Kyushu coast.

July 1945:
The crews of I-156, I-157, I-158, I-159 and I-162 are trained to launch kaiten in combat against the anticipated American invasion fleet.

15 August 1945:
Tokyo. Emperor Hirohito (Showa) broadcasts an Imperial Rescript that calls for an end to the hostilities and the war. SubDiv 34 is disbanded. I-156 is transferred to SubDiv 15.

25 August 1945:
I-156 and I-155 are scheduled to depart Hirao with the "Shinshu-tai" (Land of Gods Unit) Kaiten group. Their sortie is canceled and the boats return to Kure.

2 September 1945:
I-156 surrenders.

30 November 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

1 April 1946: Operation "Road's End":
I-156 is stripped of all usable equipment and material and towed from Sasebo to an area off Goto Retto by submarine tender USS NEREUS (AS-17). She is blown up and sinks at 32-37N, 129-17E.

Authors' Notes:
[1] The crew of SCORPION reached Australia after an epic 47-day voyage. After the war one of its passengers, RAAF Sgt Athol Snook met the brother of LtCdr Ohashi and presented a frill-necked lizard to him.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan and Jan Visser of the Netherlands.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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