HIJMS Submarine I-24: Tabular Record of Movement

2001 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

31 October 1941:
The I-24 is completed by the Sasebo Navy Yard, commissioned in the IJN and based in the Yokosuka Naval District. Cdr Hanabusa Hiroshi is the Commanding Officer.

10 November 1941:
Conversion to a midget submarine carrier completed.

15 November 1941:
The 1-24 is in Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Sixth Fleet's Advance Expeditionary Fleet in Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomo's SubRon 1.

17 November 1941: Operation "Z" - The Hawaiian Operation:
Kure Naval Club. The officers of the Special Attack Unit are briefed on the Hawaii Operation. For Operation Z, the I-24 is assigned to Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sasaki Hankyu's Special Attack Unit with the I-16, -18, -20 and the flagship, the I-22.

18 November 1941:
The Special Attack Unit departs Kure for the Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground. At Kamegakubi each of submarines embarks a top secret 46-ton two-man Type "A" midget submarine, code-named "Mato".

19 November 1941:
At 0215, all five of the Special Attack Unit's submarines depart Kamegakubi for the Hawaiian Islands. They use a direct route, passing Midway.

2 December 1941:
The coded signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" is received from the Combined Fleet. It signifies that hostilities will commence on 8 December (Japan time).*1

7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
10.5 miles WSW of the harbor entrance. At 0333, the I-24 launches her midget, the HA-19, commanded by Ensign Sakamaki Kazuo with PO2C Inagaki Kiyoshi. The HA-19 begins to broach. Inagaki manages to correct the trim successfully.

At 0700, the HA-19 makes the harbor entrance, but cannot enter the harbor before the air strike commences. About 0800, Sakamaki surfaces, but runs aground on a reef. The HA-19 is spotted by the USS HELM (DD-388). The HELM fires at the midget. The shells miss but blast the HA-19 off the reef, disable a torpedo firing mechanism and knock Sakamaki unconscious.

When he comes to, Sakamaki sees ships burning in the harbor. He runs aground again. Sakamaki and Inagaki shift ballast again and free the midget, but it will not answer the helm. Drifting, the HA-19 is depth charged several times. Sakamaki tries to beach, but runs aground again. He lights the fuses of the self-destruct charges and leaps into the surf where he is battered unconscious again and washes ashore at Waimanalo Beach. The charges do not explode.*2 Ensign Sakamaki is taken prisoner - the first POW taken by the United States in the Second World War.

7/8 December 1941:
That evening, the I-24 and the other "mother" submarines wait at the rendezvous off Lanai Island. All five of the Special Attack Unit's midgets fail to return.

That same day, PO2C Inagaki's body washes ashore.

9 December 1941:
Early in the morning, the I-24, -18 and the I-20 depart the recovery area S of Lanai. Later, the Special Attack Unit returns to Kwajalein for refueling and provisioning.

4 January 1942:
The I-24, -18 and the I-22 depart Kwajalein for a return to Hawaiian waters.

18 January 1942:
Departs the patrol area. En route, she and the I-18 receive are ordered to shell Midway Island.

25 January 1942:
The I-24 and the I-18 surface at night off Midway Island to shell U.S. Marine positions. The I-24 fires six shells, but the Marines return the fire and force the I-24 to abandon her shelling and submerge. The I-18 is taken under fire before she can open fire and is forced to submerge.

27 January 1942:
240 miles W of Midway. LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Elton W. Grenfell's USS GUDGEON (SS-211) receives an "Ultra" message advising of the approach of the I-18, I-22 and the I-24. Instead, Grenfell torpedoes and sinks the I-73 that is on the same route, but he does not see or engage the others.

2 February 1942:
Returns to Yokosuka with the I-4, -5, -6, -7, -18 and the I-22.

6 March 1942:
All of the Pearl Harbor midget crews, except POW Sakamaki, are promoted two ranks, posthumously.

16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).

10 April 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI), CINC, Combined Fleet, orders all submarine units to reconnoiter the enemy's fleet bases in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, destroy the enemy's maritime commerce and support the Port Moresby (MO) Operation.

11 April 1942:
The I-24 is in Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sasaki Hankyu's Eastern Advanced Detachment: Sasaki's SubDiv 3 with the I-21, I-22 and the I-24 and Captain Katsuta Haruo's SubDiv 14 with the I-27, -28 and the I-29. All 11 submarines of SubRon 8 complete extensive exercises in the Inland Sea.

15 April 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto addresses the captains of the Eastern detachment's submarines. The I-24 departs Kure.

30 April 1942: Departs Truk with the I-22, -28 and the I-29 to form a patrol line SW of Guadalcanal by 5 May.

2 May 1942:
Aircraft from the USS YORKTOWN's (CV-5) VS-5 and VT-5 attack the I-24 in the Coral Sea.

4 May 1942: Operation "MO" - The Invasions of Tulagi and Port Moresby:
Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (former CO of NAGARA) Port Moresby Attack Force departs Rabaul towards the Jomard Pass in the Louisiade Archipelago with DesRon 6's light cruiser YUBARI, four destroyers and a patrol boat escorting Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Abe Koso's (former CO of HIEI) Transport Force of 12 transports and a minesweeper.

That day, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 17 attacks Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide's (former CO of OOI) Tulagi Invasion Force. Douglas "Dauntless" SBDs dive-bombers and Douglas "Devastator" TBD torpedo-bombers from the carrier YORKTOWN (CV-5) sink a destroyer, three minesweepers and damage four other ships.

5 May 1942:
Fletcher's force turns north to engage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo's (former CO of MUTSU) Carrier Strike Force. SBDs and TBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON (CV-2) sink Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo's (former CO of MUTSU) light carrier SHOHO off Misima Island. In turn, Japanese planes damage the oiler USS NEOSHO (AO-23) and sink the destroyer SIMS (DD-409). >/P> SubDiv 3's I-24 and the I-22 reach their assigned patrol area with the I-28 and the I-29 in support of Operation MO.

8 May 1942:
SBD dive-bombers from the YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON damage Vice Admiral Takagi's carrier SHOKAKU and force her retirement. The ZUIKAKU's air group suffers heavy losses. Japanese carrier bombers and attack planes attack Task Force 17 and damage YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON that is further damaged when gasoline vapors are ignited, triggering massive explosions that cause her to be abandoned. Later, the LEXINGTON is scuttled by the destroyer PHELPS (DD-360).

The Battle of the Coral Sea halts the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and they are forced to cancel Operation MO.

11 May 1942:
The I-24, -22, -28 and the I-29 are ordered to return to Truk.

16 May 1942:
250 miles N of Rabaul. The I-28 reports trouble with an engine and lags behind.

17 May 1942:
S of Truk. Early in the morning, LtCdr Joseph H. Willingham's USS TAUTOG (SS-199) attacks two I-class submarines, including the I-24. Two hours later, the TAUTOG sinks the I-28 that was heading towards Truk on the same course.

The I-24 arrives back at Truk. She is in Captain Sasaki's Special Attack Unit with the I-22 and the I-27. The I-21 and the I-29 carrying Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" reconnaissance floatplanes are also assigned to Sasaki's Unit.

The I-24 embarks a Type A midget submarine and its crew (Lt (j.g) Yamaki and PO1C Matsumoto Shizuka). The midget was carried to Truk aboard the seaplane/submarine carrier CHIYODA (later converted to a carrier). 18 May 1942:
Departs Truk with the I-22 and the I-27.

19 May 1942:
The I-24 surfaces to begin a battery charge and carry out maintenance on her midget. As Yamaki enters the midget, followed by Matsumoto, there is a strong smell of chlorine. Matsumoto turns on the interior light to investigate. A terrific explosion blows him overboard! Despite a long search, his body is never recovered. Lt (j.g.) Yamaki is badly burned, so Cdr Hanabusa returns to Truk.

20 May 1942:
Returns to Truk and departs that same day. The damaged midget is exchanged for the one intended for the missing I-28. The I-24 also embarks Lt (j.g.) Ban Katsuhisa and PO1C Ashibe Mamoru.

29 May 1942:
The flagship I-21 launches its Glen to reconnoiter Sydney harbor. At 0420, it circles twice over the harbor near where the heavy cruiser USS CHICAGO (CA-29) is anchored. First thought to be an American plane, RAAF fighters are sent to intercept, but are unsuccessful. The Glen returns and reports sighting a "battleship". Captain Sasaki orders an attack on Sydney harbor by his midget submarines.

30 May 1942:
Arrives off Sydney.

31 May 1942: The Attack on Sydney:
7.5 miles E of Sydney. At 1740 the I-24 launches her midget.

At 2207, all vessels in the harbor are alerted of the presence of an enemy submarine. The CHICAGO (CA-29) spots the HA-17 and fires on it with its AA guns at the same time HA-21 is entering the harbor.

1 June 1942:
At 0029, the HA-17 fires one 17.7-inch torpedo at the CHICAGO. It explodes under HMAS KUTTABUL (an old ferry being used as the accommodation ship), killing 21 sailors and damaging the moored Dutch submarine K-IX. Another torpedo runs aground on the east side of Garden Island.

The wreck of the HA-17 is never found and her crew is MIA thereafter.

3 June 1942:
After lingering outside Sydney to recover the midgets that fail to return, the I-24 and the other submarines finally give up and switch to commerce warfare.*3

E of Sydney, 35 miles SE of Norah Head. At dusk, the I-24 is recharging her batteries on the surface when her lookouts spot the 4,734-ton Australian coastal steamer AGE. Cdr Hanabusa fires a torpedo at the steamer, but misses. The I-24 next fires four rounds from her 140-mm deck gun at the AGE, but does no damage. The AGE radios that she is under attack and disappears into the night. Hanabusa, thinking he has sunk the steamer, claims a victory in his report.

27 miles E of Sydney. About 90 minutes later, the I-24 fires two torpedoes at the 4,812-ton Australian merchant IRON CHIEFTAIN that is en route from Newcastle to Whyalla with a cargo of coke and materials for a shipyard. One torpedo hits her portside amidships. Her heavy load drags her to the bottom in about five minutes.

5 June 1942:
17 miles off Wollongong. The I-24 chases the 3, 362-ton Australian merchant ECHUNGA that is enroute from Whyalla to Port Kembla but fails to damage to her.

8 June 1942:
Four miles off Sydney. After midnight, the I-24 surfaces then opens fire with its deck gun on the Harbour Bridge. Within four minutes, the I-24 fires ten shells at 30-second intervals. None hit the bridge. Only one of the shells explodes and demolishes part of house in the eastern suburbs. The other duds cause but minor damage. The Australians turn on their searchlights, but the I-24 crash dives before the shore batteries can return fire. The shelling causes no casualties, but some of Sydney's residents panic and flee the city in fear of a Japanese invasion.

1Lt George L. Cantello of the 35th Pursuit Group, 41st PS, takes off from Bankstown Aerodrome with his Bell P-39 "Airacobra" fighter to intercept the submarine, but crashes immediately thereafter.

9 June 1942:
SE of Jervis Bay. Shortly before daybreak, the I-24 sights the 7,748-ton British merchant ORESTES. Cdr Hanabusa attacks her twice with torpedoes, but they explode prematurely. The I-24 then surfaces and shells the merchant with her 140-mm deck gun. She gets a single hit, but does not sink the ORESTES. As no fire is visible, Cdr Hanabusa decides to abandon the attack.

25 June 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein in the company of the I-21, -22, -27 and the I-29.

12 July 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's Task Force 63's land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later Gen/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.

14 August 1942:
The I-24 is in Vice Admiral Komatsu's Sixth Fleet at Truk in Subron 1 with the I-15, -16, -17, -18, -19, -20, -21, -22, -25 and the I-26.

30 August 1942:
Departs Yokosuka to operate in the Solomons area.

13 September 1942:
345 miles SSE of Guadalcanal. Early in the morning, a Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boat of the Yokohama NAG sights one carrier, two battleships and two destroyers steaming north. The I-24, -9, -15, -17, -21, -26, -31 and the I-33 are ordered to form a patrol line and intercept the enemy task force.

26 October 1942: The Battle of Santa Cruz:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's Task Force 16 and Rear Admiral George D. Murray's Task Force 17 engage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) carrier force. The ENTERPRISE (CV-6), HORNET (CV-8), SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57) and the SAN JUAN (CL-54) are damaged by Japanese planes. The PORTER (DD-356) is scuttled by the SHAW (DD-373). The HORNET is scuttled much later by IJN destroyers. In turn, the carriers ZUIHO and the SHOKAKU, the cruiser CHIKUMA and the destroyer TERUTSUKI are damaged by American planes.

During the battle, the I-24 is in the "B" Group and patrols W of the Indispensable Strait with the I-9, -15, -21, -174 and the I-175.

27 October 1942:
Solomon Sea. The 1-24 makes a night attack on an American task force at 15-05S, 159-45W. Cdr Hanabusa fires a salvo of torpedoes at a battleship. He hears explosions, but they are depth charges, not hits.

2 November 1942:
Arrives at the Shortland Islands anchorage. The I-24, -16 and the I-20 form an attack group under Captain Ota Nobunosuke.

3 November 1942:
Embarks Lt (j.g.) Mukai Yasuaki and PO1C Sano Kyugoro's midget HA-12 brought from the Empire aboard the tender CHIYODA.

4 November 1942:
Departs Shortland with the I-16 for Indispensable Strait, Guadalcanal.

7 November 1942:
The I-24 patrols off Guadalcanal.

13 November 1942:
Returns to Truk because of a midget submarine failure.

15 November 1942: Embarks the repaired HA-12 and departs Truk.

22 November 1942:
14 miles NW of Cape Esperance. At 2305, the HA-12 is launched (MIA thereafter).

1 December 1942:
Shortland. Embarks midget submarine HA-38 under Lt (j.g.) Tsuji Tomio and PO1C Tsubokura Daiseiki.

7 December 1942:
Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. At 0142, the I-24 launches her midget. At 0659, the HA-38 torpedoes the beached freighter USS ALCHIBA (AK-23). One of her torpedoes misses, but the other hits the already heavily damaged freighter portside near her engine room.

The HA-38 is counter-attacked and depth-charged. She is MIA thereafter.*4

3 January 1943:
Departs Truk to take up duties at her base at Rabaul.

11 January 1943:
Delivers 25-tons of food and ammo to Buna and evacuates 79 soldiers.

18 January 1943:
Delivers 20-tons of cargo to Buna, evacuates 58 soldiers and the battle flag of the 144th (Kochi) Infantry Division.

26 January 1943:
Delivers 16-tons of cargo to Buna and evacuates 64 soldiers.

28 January 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

10 February 1943:
Delivers 16-tons of Cargo to Buna and evacuates 71 soldiers.

17 February 1943:
Delivers 32-tons of cargo to Lae and evacuates 72 soldiers.

23 February 1943:
Delivers 38.5-tons of cargo to Lae and evacuates 64 soldiers.

6 March 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka for overhaul.

7 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.*5

11 May 1943: American Operation "Sandcrab" - The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral Kinkaid's Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's Task Force 51, lands elements of the Army's 4th and 7th Infantry Divisions under the command of MajGen Eugene M. Landrum at Holtz Bay and Massacre Bay that later capture the island.

20 May 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

21 May 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Kiska:
The Imperial General Headquarters decides to evacuate the garrison at Kiska Island, Aleutians.

That day, the I-24, still under Cdr Hanabusa, departs Kure for the Kuriles. She is assigned to Northern District Force, Fifth Fleet.

May 1943:
Departs Paramushiro, Kuriles for Chichagof harbor at Attu, Aleutians to rescue Japanese survivors. She makes three unsuccessful attempts to contact the survivors. Her orders are cancelled and she returns to Paramushiro.

30 May 1943:
Departs Paramushiro, Kuriles for Chichagof Bay on Attu, Aleutians to rescue Japanese survivors. She makes three unsuccessful attempts to contact the survivors.

5 June 1943:
Departs the Attu area to patrol off Kiska (ETA 13 June).

7 June 1943:
The I-24 confirms the presence of many American ships in the Kiska area. This is her last message.

11 June 1943:
The I-24 departs Kiska for Paramushiro.

40 miles NNE of Shemya Island, Aleutians. In heavy fog, Lt Wallace G. Cornell's subchaser PC-487 first makes sonar contact, then radar contact and finally visual contact on a submarine. When first sighted, both of the submarine's periscopes are up, indicating visibility is extremely poor.

Cornell attacks with depth charges and forces the I-24 to surface. Cornell races towards the submarine at 19 knots. He rams the 2,554- ton submarine with his small 675-ton subchaser, but rides up and over the I-24's hull! Undeterred, Cornell rams the submarine's conning tower. This time the I-24 rolls over and sinks at 53-16N, 174-24E.*6

The I-24 is presumed lost with all 104 hands off Kiska from this date.

1 August 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
*1 Mt. Niitaka, located in Formosa (now Taiwan), is then the highest point in the Japanese Empire.

*2 Since 1991, Sakamaki and Inagaki's midget is on display at the Fleet Admiral Chester A. Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, one of four such Type A midgets on display around the world.

*3 All of the Sydney midget crews are promoted two ranks, posthumously.

*4 On 28 November 1942, the I-16's midget HA-10 torpedoed and damaged the ALCHIBA that had carried a cargo of aviation gasoline, bombs and ammunition from Noumea. The ALCHIBA had to be beached off Lunga Point. The 7 December attack by the HA-38 was the second midget attack on the ALCHIBA. The ALCHIBA is later repaired and returns to service in 1943 as an attack transport (AKA-6).

*5 Some Japanese sources suggest that the I-24 sortied to Truk and returned to Kure between 7-20 May '43, but this is not substantiated by other Japanese sources.

*6 Some accounts claim that the submarine sunk at this time and place was the I-9.

Special thanks for help in preparing this TROM go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan and Steve Eckardt of Australia. Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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