HIJMS Submarine I-34: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2010 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 4

31 August 1942:
I-34 is completed at the Sasebo Dockyard, commissioned in the IJN and assigned to the Kure Naval District. Cdr Tonozuka Kinzo (former CO of I-3), assigned as her Equipping Officer since 20 May 1942, becomes the Commanding Officer.

1 September 1942:
Assigned to the Kure SubRon for working-up with I-35, RO-100 and submarine tender SANTOS MARU.

15 November 1942:
Reassigned to the Fifth Fleet with I-34 and I-36.

28 November 1942:
Departs Kure for Ominato with I-35.

1 December 1942:
I-34 and I-35 arrive at Ominato.

2 December 1942: (add new entry) Departs Ominato with I-35 to patrol off Kiska and to deliver supplies there.

10 December 1942:
I-34 arrives at Kiska, departs on that same day after unloading her cargo.

13 December 1942:
Patrols N of Near Islands.

23 December 1942:
Patrols S of Near Islands.

26 December 1942:
Departs her patrol area for Paramushiro.

1 January 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

6 January 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for Kiska with IG Hq staff officer (supplies) LtCol Iwakoshi Shinroku aboard.

9 January 1943:
Arrives at Kiska, departs for Attu on the next day.

11 January 1943:
Arrives at Attu, departs for Paramushiro on that same day.

15 January 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

20 January 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for Kiska with a cargo of supplies.

25 January 1943:
I-34 arrives at Kiska, unloads her cargo and departs immediately to reconnoiter Amchitka on her way back.

26 January 1943:
I-34 arrives off Constantine Harbor, Amchitka.

29 January 1943:
Patrols N of Near Islands.

13 February 1943:
Patrols S of Near Islands.

23-24 February 1943:
I-34 carries out periscopic reconnaissance of the airfield on Amchitka. Cdr Tonozuka sights four enemy destroyers but fails to attack them. After serving as a radio beacon for Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" and Aichi E13A1 "Jake" floatplanes raiding Amchitka, I-34 proceeds to reconnoiter Adak and Attu.

25 February 1943:
Departs her patrol area for a scheduled overhaul at Yokosuka.

28 February 1943:
I-34 is ordered to proceed to Paramushiro.

2 March 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

4 March 1943:
Departs Paramushiro to patrol in the area 10 nm N of Semichi Islands.

12 March 1943
Departs her patrol area for Yokosuka.

18 March 1943:
I-34 arrives at Yokosuka, where she is overhauled until mid-April.

20 March 1943:
Cdr Irie Tatsushi assumes command. Cdr Tonozuka later becomes CO of I-10.

22 April 1943:
Reassigned to the Northern District Force.

25 April 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Ominato.

28 April 1943:
Arrives at Ominato, then departs for a supply run to Kiska.

May 1943:
I-34 departs Ominato for a supply run to Kiska.

8 May 1943:
I-34 arrives at Kiska.

11 May 1943: American Operation "Sandcrab" - 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 elements of the Army's 4th and 7th Infantry Divisions under the command of Maj Gen Eugene M. Landrum at Holtz Bay and Massacre Bay that later capture the island.

12 May 1943:
Departs Kiska to patrol in Attu area.

13 May 1943:
Attu. LtCdr John E. Edwards' USS PHELPS (DD-360) is screening Captain William A. Corn's USS PENNSYLVANIA. PHELPS makes a sound contact and drops two depth charges. The contact appears stationary during the destroyer's approach, but at the last minute there is a sudden shift in bearing rate and a perceptible change in relative speed, as if the submarine is attempting to escape.

At 1530, contact is regained. LtCdr Edwards drops five 600-lb. depth charges and four 300-lb depth charges. Nearby, LtCdr Richard C. Williams, Jr.'s fast minelayer USS PRUITT (DM-22) reports that a metal drum has been brought to surface and that there is a slight diesel oil slick. A depth charge may have knocked the drum off the submarine's deck. The identity of the submarine is unknown, but I-34 is depth-charged that day by two enemy vessels SE of Attu.

15 May 1943:
Holtz Bay, Attu. In the foggy morning, Cdr John B. McGovern's transport USS J. FRANKLIN BELL (APA-16) is completing unloading slowly onto the narrow, rocky beach. PENNSYLVANIA is standing nearby. A submarine, probably I-35, launches a salvo of torpedoes at the battleship. At 1140, four torpedoes pass on either side of BELL and not far from PENNSYLVANIA. Attempts to destroy the submarine are unsuccessful. BELL is withdrawn temporarily from the area to avoid further attacks.

21 May 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Kiska:
Imperial General Headquarters decides to abandon Attu and evacuate the garrison at Kiska.

26 May 1943:
The evacuation from Kiska to Paramushiro via submarines begins.

29 May 1943:
I-34 returns to Paramushiro.

30 May 1943:
I-34 participates in the evacuation of Kiska with SubRon 1's I-2, I-7, I-21, I-24, I-36, I-155, I-156, I-157, I-168, I-169 and I-171. All submarines involved in the operation eventually extricate 820 men, but at a cost of three I-boats sunk and three damaged.

9 June 1943:
Arrives at Kiska, delivering 9 tons of ammo and 5 tons food. Departs hat same evening at 2015 (JST), carrying 9 sailors and 71 members of gunzoku personnel.

13 June 1943:
At 1900 (JST) arrives at Paramushiro. Oiler TEIYO MARU refuels I-34.

17 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for a supply run to Kiska.

21 June 1943: Operation KE:
I-34’s mission is canceledand she is recalled to Paramushiro.

22 June 1943:
At 1200 (JST) returns to Paramushiro.

28 June 1943:
TEIYO MARU refuels I-34.

2 July 1943:
Departs Paramushiro in company of I-36 to support the KE-GO operation.

8 July 1943:
I-34 is chased and briefly depth-charged S of Constantine Harbor.

10 July 1943:
Arrives to the area E of Kiska, providing distant cover during the KE-GO operation.

16 July 1943:
I-34 is ordered to proceed an area N of Kiska.

18 July 1943:
Reassigned to the Vanguard Unit.

23 July 1943:
Returns to Paramushiro.

24 July 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for Kure.

29 July 1943:
Arrives at Kure. She is subsequently transferred to Kobe for repairs.

15 September 1943:
Attached to SubRon 8 Headuarters at Penang, Malaya.

13 October 1943:
I-34, still under Cdr Irie, departs Kure on the first leg of a "Yanagi" mission to Nazi-occupied France. She is the third IJN submarine to undertake such a mission. The Japanese code name I-34 "Momi" (Fir) and the Germans code name her the "U-Tanne". Radio traffic between Tokyo and Berlin concerning I-34's mission is transmitted in diplomatic code, but is intercepted and deciphered by Allied code-breakers. [1]

22 October 1943:
I-34 arrives at Singapore. Her five passengers, including Rear Admiral Kojima Hideo (former CO of CL KASHII) and two Mitsubishi engineers, have already arrived there by plane. Rear Admiral Kojima visits Cdr Irie aboard I-34 to discuss the details of the sortie.

4 November 1943:
Seletar Naval Base, Singapore. I-34 embarks a cargo of tin, tungsten, raw rubber and opium. Tin ingots are inserted into submarine’s keel as ballast, bales of rubber are loaded below the upper deck planking. Tungsten bars are loaded to forward and aft crew spaces and opium stored in wooden boxes in the floatplane hangar. The initial diving tests reveal that the additional cargo has upset I-34’s trim, preventing crash-dives. Her departure is delayed. Rear Admiral Kojima and I-34's other passengers decide to take a train and rejoin the submarine in Penang except Constuctor LtCdr Arima Masao, who attempts to cure the trim problems en route to Penang. [2]

11 November 1943:
Early in the morning I-34 departs Seletar for Penang. The Germans plan to refuel I-34 in the Indian Ocean from the supply ship BOGOTA on 25 November and 4 December 1943 before the submarine enters the South Atlantic.

13 November 1943:
30 miles S of Penang. Alerted by an "Ultra" special intelligence signal, LtCdr (Later Captain) Mervyn R. G. Wingfield's submarine HMS TAURUS sights I-34 running on the surface at 14 knots. At 0730, Wingfield sets up and fires six torpedoes. One hits I-34's starboard side just below her conning tower. She sinks at 115 feet ,10 nm NW of the Muka lighthouse at 05-17N, 100-05E.

Some twenty sailors in the forward crew space survive the attack and are trapped inside the submarine. CPO Miyake Kazumasa manages to open a deck hatch, allowing them to escape. Of these, 14 are picked up by a native junk and arrive at Penang that evening, but 84 crewmembers are KIA. I-34 is the first IJN submarine that is sunk by a Royal Navy submarine. Following the loss of I-34 the IJN diverts all Europe-bound submarines away from Penang.

14 November 1943:
Subchaser CH-20 from Penang attacks TAURUS in the morning. Wingfield dives deep, but TAURUS hits bottom. Her bow sticks in the soft mud. The sub chaser drops a pattern of depth charges. The exploding charges shake TAURUS's bow free. Wingfield comes to periscope depth, then surfaces and engages the sub chaser with his deck gun. TAURUS severely damages CH-20. A plane arrives and forces LtCdr Wingfield to dive before he can finish off the subchaser.[3]

5 January 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

4 December 1962:
The wreck of I-34 is salvaged by a Singaporean salvage company.

Author's Notes:
[1] When Japan enters the war, the Axis Tripartite agreement is amended to provide for an exchange of strategic materials and manufactured goods between Europe and the Far East. Cargo ships make the initial "Yanagi" exchanges, but when that is no longer possible submarines are used.

[2] Lucky Rear Admiral Kojima and I-34's other passengers depart Penang aboard I-29 on 16 December 1943, arriving safely at Lorient, France on 11 March 1944. Kojima later becomes the Naval Attaché to Germany.

[3] British and Japanese accounts are conflicting concerning the TAURUS' encounter with the subchaser. The British account has I-34 being escorted by CH-20 prior to TAURUS' attack and immediately counter-attacking, while the Japanese account has the CH-20 attacking the next morning. Moreover, Wingfield thought that he had sunk the subchaser, which he did not, but it was out of the war for six months. Captain Wingfield died 15 March 2005, aged 94.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Special thanks go to Bill Somerville of the USA for info on the encounter between CH-20 and HMS TAURUS.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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