(I-8 arrives off Brest, France, 31 Aug '43)

IJN Submarine I-8:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 4

11 October 1934:
Laid down at Kawasaki's Kobe Shipyard as a Junsen 3 class submarine. [1]

20 July 1936:

20 May 1938:
Cdr (later Captain) Goto Hiroshi (48)(former gunnery officer of I-60) is appointed Chief Equipping Officer.

5 December 1938:
Kobe. I-8 is completed and attached to Yokosuka Naval District. Cdr Goto is the CO.

15 November 1939:
Cdr (rear Admiral, posthumously) Shimizu Taro (48) (former CO of I-5) is appointed CO.

15 November 1940:
I-8 is assigned to SubRon 3, Sixth Fleet.

1 October 1941:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Miwa Shigeyoshi (39), the current ComSubRon 3, orders to transfer his flag from TAIGEI to I-8. Commences battle training with the remainder of SubRon 3 off Kyushu.

31 October 1941:
Cdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Emi Tetsushiro (50)(former CO of I-4) is appointed CO.

10 November 1941: Operation "Z":
I-8 is in Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Advance Expeditionary Force (Sixth Fleet) as the flagship of Rear Admiral Miwa Shigeyoshi's SubRon 3.

Admiral Shimizu convenes a meeting aboard his flagship, light cruiser KATORI. Cdr Emi and the other submarine commanders are briefed on the planned attack on Pearl Harbor.

11 November 1941:
I-8 departs Saeki Bay, Kyushu, for Kwajalein, carrying a Watanabe E9W1 "Slim" floatplane.

20 November 1941:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

24 November 1941:
Departs Kwajalein for Hawaii.

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). Mt. Niitaka, located in Formosa (now Taiwan), is then the highest point in the Japanese Empire.

7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
I-8 is stationed NW of Oahu. Its mission is to reconnoiter and attack any ships that try to sortie from Pearl Harbor.

12 January 1942:
Departs Kwajalein for the West Coast of the United States.

3 February 1942:
I-8 arrives west of San Francisco, California. No brownout appears to be set in the city. Towards the evening Cdr Emi sights a convoy of 7 transports and 3 destroyers, passing his submarine at high speed. Rough weather prevents the planned recce flight over the San Francisco Bay.

7 February 1942:
I-8 patrols northward as far as Seattle, Washington, but is not presented with any attack opportunities.

9 February 1942:
Departs the West Coast for Kure.

2 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure for repairs and overhaul.

16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (37)(former CO of NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).

15 April 1942:
SubDiv 3 departs Yokosuka for Kwajalein with Rear Admiral Miwa, ComSubDiv 3, embarked on its flagship, I-8.

18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
SubRon 3 is ordered to be on the lookout for an American Task Force sighted 700 miles east of Tokyo, but makes no contact.

Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. ("Bull") Halsey's Task Force 16's USS HORNET (CV-8), cruisers, destroyers and an oiler accompanied by ENTERPRISE (CV-6), cruisers, destroyers and another oiler approach to within 668 nautical miles of Japan. Led by Lt Col (later Gen/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 Army North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group takeoff from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe.

April 1942:
En route to Kwajalein, Rear Admiral Miwa becomes seriously ill. I-8 returns to Yokosuka. The remainder of SubRon 3 continues on to Kwajalein.

1 May 1942:
Yokosuka. Rear Admiral Kono Chimaki assumes command of SubRon 3. Cdr Emi departs again for Kwajalein.

6 May 1942:
Off Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein. After 0544, I-8 is mistakenly attacked by two Mitsubishi G4M1 "Bettys" from Chitose NAG, dropping a total of eight 60-kg (132-lb) bombs. As a result of the damage sustained, she cannot submerge and returns to Japan for repairs. [2]

16 May 1942:
Arrives at Kure. I-8 is transferred to SubRon 5.

20 May-30 June 1942:
Captain Emi is appointed the CO of I-172 as an additional duty.

14 July 1942:
SubRon 5 is disbanded. I-8 is reassigned as flagship of the Southwest Area Fleet with SubDiv 30's I-162, I-165 and I-166.

25 July 1942:
Cdr (promoted Captain 1 May 1943) Uchino Shinji (49) (former XO of SHIRETOKO) is appointed CO.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands:
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/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.

27 August 1942:
Saeki Bay, Kyushu. I-8 collides with the auxiliary cruiser BANGKOK MARU, receiving minor damage.

15 September 1942:
Departs Saeki to operate in the Guadalcanal area. I-8 shells enemy positions and participates in reconnaissance missions.

18 September 1942:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sasaki Hankyu's SubDiv 3's I-8, I-168, I-169, I-171, I-172, I-174 and I-175 arrive at Truk.

2 November 1942:
I-8 catapults her Watanabe E9W1 "Slim" floatplane to reconnoiter Port Vila and Havannah harbors on Efate Island in the New Hebrides. [3]

Late 1942:
I-8 is in SubRon 2 in Captain (Rear Admiral posthumously) Tamaki Tomejiro's SubDiv 7 with I-1, I-2, I-3, I-4, I-5 and I-7.

23 January 1943:
I-8 bombards Canton Island.

21 March 1943:
Arrives at Kure for an overhaul.

31 March 1943:
Berlin, Germany. The Japanese Ambassador to Germany, Lt General Oshima Hiroshi, reports to Tokyo that Field Marshal Eric von Manstein suggested that large, older U-boats be converted to carry "Yanagi" war materials between Europe and the Far East since too many surface blockade-runners are being sunk. Oshima recommends that the Japanese adopt the German suggestion as soon as possible. Oshima's message is sent in the Japanese diplomatic "Purple" code, but is intercepted and decoded by the Allies. [4]

1 June 1943:
I-8 departs Kure bound for Nazi-occupied France on a Yanagi mission, the second IJN submarine (after I-30) to be given such a mission. Captain Uchino carries LtCdr Norita Sadatoshi (former CO of I-122) and a spare 48-man crew. Norita will later assume command of German U-1224 "Marco Polo II" (redesignated RO-501) a type IXC/40 U-boat that is later transferred to the IJN. Constructor Cdr Nishihara, aboard as a passenger, is to study the manufacture of German torpedo boat engines.

With about 160 men and cargo aboard cramped I-8, the spare crew is accommodated mainly in the torpedo room. Only the six torpedoes in the tubes are carried.

10 June 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

21 June 1943:
Vice Admiral Takagi Takeo (former CO of MUTSU) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).

22 June 1943:
I-8 departs Singapore.

23 June 1943:
Arrives at Penang, Malaya. Capt Uchino's I-8 joins Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noboru's (former CO of HYUGA) SubRon 8 with I-10, I-27, I-29 and I-37.

27 June 1943:
Departs Penang. I-8 carries a cargo of tons of tungsten, rubber, tin, quinine and probably medicinal opium.

1 July 1943:
I-8 refuels and replenishes from Cdr Tonozuka Kinzo's I-10 at 4-53S, 87-20E.

6 July 1943:
I-8 refuels from I-8 at 22-25S, 76-15E. I-8 then detaches for the German U-Boat base at Brest, France.

July 1943:
I-8 enters the Atlantic via the Cape of Good Hope, 300 miles S of Africa. She is battered by fierce storms for 10 days and can make no better than 5 knots. The storms damage her aircraft hangar and upper deck.

24 July 1943:
I-8 receives its first radio signal from the Kriegsmarine. The Germans warn the Japanese about Allied air patrols and radar.

2 August 1943:
I-8 crosses the Equator.

August 1943:
Atlantic Ocean, S of the Azores. I-8 rendezvouses with Kapitänleutnant Albrecht Achilles' Type IXC U-161 and takes aboard Oberleutnant zur See Jahn and two petty officer radiomen to assist in bringing I-8 safely into the U-Boat base at Brest. I-8 is code-named "Flieder" (Lilac) by the Germans.

The Germans install a FuMB 9 Wanze ("Bedbug") radar detector on I-8's bridge, making it the first carried on an IJN submarine. On completion of this task, the Japanese present the German crew with a 4-gallon tank of coffee. U-161 detaches for Brazil but is lost the next month SW of the Azores. Jahn and the two petty officers are the only U-161 crewmen to survive her last patrol.

Bay of Biscay. The Luftwaffe provides air cover for I-8. Near Brest, they provide additional Ju-88 attack bombers and the Kriegsmarine dispatches several destroyers to escort I-8 into port.

Penang. While I-8 is on her European voyage, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Ichioka Hisashi (former CO of YURA) assumes command of SubRon 8 from Rear Admiral Ishizaki.

31 August 1943:
I-8 arrives at Brest. German torpedo boats T-22, T-24 and T-25 sweep a passage through their magnetic influence mines into the harbor. Captain Uchino and his crew, turn out on deck in their dress blues. They are greeted by Admiral Theodor Krancke (former CO of Panzerschiffe ADMIRAL SCHEER), CINC of the Kriegsmarine's Marineoberkommando der West (Group West) and receive German war decorations. A German tug assists I-8 in berthing in Pen "A" of Brest's huge U-boat bunker. The station band plays welcoming music.

(I-8 berthing in Pen "A" of Brest's U-boat bunker)

Brest is the home of the 1st U-Flotille "Wediggen" commanded by Knight's Cross winner Korvettenkapitän Werner Winter (former CO of U-103) with its headquarters at the former French Naval Academy, a sprawling granite complex overlooking the bay. Later, the Germans host their Japanese counterparts in their luxurious leisure facility at Chateau de Trévarez overlooking the small town of Chateauneuf de Faou.


LEFT: Cdr Uchino being greeted by KK Winter, CO of the 1st U- boat Flotilla, on his arrival at Brest
RIGHT: Cdr Uchino addresses a reception for I-8.

5 October 1943:
I-8 departs Brest under a strong Kriegsmarine escort. Her cargo includes samples of a German "Schnell-boot" (E-Boat) engine, radars including the "Rotterdam Gerät" and sonar equipment, quad 20-mm AA guns, aircraft guns, dive-bomber and horizontal-bomber bombsights, Daimler-Benz MB 501 20-cylinder diesel Schnell-boot (E-boat) engine, electric torpedoes and naval chronometers.

I-8's passengers include Rear Admiral Yokoi Tadao, former Naval Attaché to Germany (Sep 40-Sep 43) and Captain Hosoya Sukeyoshi, former Naval Attaché to France (Dec 39-Mar 43). I-8 also carries three German naval officers including Japanese-speaking Lt Koch, one German Army major, four radar and hydrophone technicians and four civilian passengers including a Dr. Jakob and a Dr. Mueller.

After crossing the equator, I-8 sends her second position report to the Kriegsmarine, but the signal is intercepted and her position plotted by Allied direction finding (DF). The next day she is attacked by an ASW aircraft, but manages to crash-dive. While traversing the "roaring forties", another storm damages her bridge.

November 1943:
Indian Ocean. I-8, running on the surface, affixes canvases with the Hinomaru national identification markings on her conning tower. Just then a friendly aircraft buzzes her. Her fuel state is critical. She tries to contact Penang and other submarines, but is unsuccessful.

2 December 1943:
Arrives at Penang.

5 December 1943:
I-8 arrives at Singapore.

21 December 1943:
Arrives at Kure, completing a voyage of 30,000 miles. (I-8 is the only IJN submarine to successfully complete a round-trip voyage from Japan to Europe in World War II.) She is transferred for refitting at the Tamano Shipyard in the Okayama Prefecture.

15 January 1944:
Cdr (promoted Captain 15 October) Ariizumi Tatsunosuke (51)(former Staff Operations Officer of SubRon 11) is appointed CO.

21 February 1944:
Departs Kure to raid enemy communications in the Indian Ocean.

19 March 1944:
Departs Penang to raid enemy communications in the Indian Ocean, off Maldive Islands.

26 March 1944:
Indian Ocean, 600 miles SSW of Colombo. I-8 torpedoes and sinks the 5,787-ton Dutch armed merchant TJISALAK. Survivors are taken aboard the submarine. Ninety-eight crew and passengers are then massacred by swords and clubbing with wrenches. I-8's crew machine-guns the survivors who jump overboard. Of 103 men on board only five survive. They eventually reach a lifeboat and are later picked up by an American freighter.

30 March 1944:
Indian Ocean, SE of Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipelago. The E9W1 launched from I-8 spots the 6,589-ton British armed merchant CITY OF ADELAIDE, independently on a voyage from Karachi to Fremantle, in ballast. The pilot vectors the submarine to the position 12-01S, 80-27E to intercept the steamer and then returns.

After sundown I-8 launces one torpedo which hits the British merchant starboard amidships. She develops a heavy list and transmits a distress signal. After the crew and the gunners have left the ship, I-8 surfaces and scuttles CITY OF ADELAIDE with gunfire.

11 April 1944:
Indian Ocean. The 10,448-ton American T-2 tanker, SS YAMHILL is bound from Bahrein for Fremantle, Australia with a cargo of oil for American submarines. At 0607, at 3-31N, 67-07E, YAMHILL encounters a Japanese submarine, probably I-8, that fires four torpedoes at her about four minutes apart. Two torpedoes pass on YAMHILL's portside and two pass on her starboard side. YAMHILL sends out a wireless signal that she is under submarine attack and requests air cover.

The submarine surfaces at about 11,000 yards. A 12-hour chase follows. YAMHILL's bow-mounted 5-inch main gun outranges the submarine's 5.5-in twin gun by about 175 yards. I-8 fires about 20 shells, while YAMHILL answers with 38 shells. About sunset, a RAF PBY "Catalina" long-range seaplane from the Maldives appears and drives the submarine under. YAMHILL eludes I-8 in the darkness.

16 April 1944:
Off Addu Atoll, Maldives. I-8 shells and sinks an unidentified sailing vessel.

29 June 1944:
Indian Ocean, SW of Diego Garcia. Around 2345, I-8 torpedoes the 6,942-ton British armed passenger-cargo liner NELLORE in position 07-51S, 75-20E. NELLORE was en route from Bombay to Sydney with 174 passengers and 2,720 tons of general cargo including government stores. After receiving two torpedo hits the liner goes dead in the water and a fire breaks out. The survivors escape in nine boats. I-8 surfaces to take 1 gunner and 10 passengers prisoner; the blazing wreck is scuttled by gunfire around 0245 on the 30th. 35 sailors, 5 gunners and 39 passengers are lost either in the sinking or prior to the rescue of the survivors by the frigate HMS LOSSIE (K.303) and a RAF seaplane. [5]

2 July 1944:
Indian Ocean, 700 miles south of Ceylon. The American "Liberty" ship JEAN NICOLET, carrying war materials for the China/Burma/India theater of war, is en route from Bombay to Sydney. Cdr Ariizumi fires two torpedoes and hits NICOLET on her starboard side. Shortly thereafter she is abandoned. I-8 surfaces and shells the ship, setting her afire. JEAN NICOLET sinks at 3-28S, 74-30W.

I-8 takes 99 survivors aboard. The submarine's crew then searches, binds and questions the POWs. Ariizumi orders NICOLET's master, radio operator and a civilian passenger taken below. Most POWs are beaten, others stabbed, one shot, and some are made to run a gauntlet of crewmen with knives and pipes. In the meantime, I-8 destroys the lifeboats with gunfire. Her radar picks up an aircraft. Ariizumi submerges and leaves the bound Americans on deck to drown. Of NICOLET's 100-man crew, only four survive.

14 August 1944:
Arrives at Penang.

9 September 1944:
German U-862 (later the I-502) arrives at Penang. She is welcomed by the German "Monsun" U-boat Group. Rear Admiral Uozumi Jisaku (former CO of HAGURO), ComSubRon 8, and his staff and Cdr Ariizumi also welcome the Germans.

11 September 1944:
U-862's Commanding Officer, Korvettenkapitän Heinrich Timm, hosts Rear Admiral Uozumi, Cdr Ariizumi and a group of I-8's officers aboard the U-boat. That afternoon, Ariizumi reciprocates and Timm and U-862's officers pay a call on I-8.

9 October 1944:
I-8 arrives at Yokosuka for repairs. While at the dock yard, I-8's aircraft hangar and catapult are removed. Fittings are installed to enable I-8 to carry four "Kaiten" manned suicide submarines, but none is ever carried.

5 November 1944:
Captain Ariizumi is reassigned. No new CO is appointed.

15 December 1944:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Shinohara Shigeo (62) (former CO of I-367) is appointed CO.

18 March 1945:
Departs Saeki with RO-41, RO-49 and RO-56 to operate south of Okinawa.

26 March 1945: American Operation "Iceberg" - The Invasion of Okinawa:
The 77th Infantry Division lands on the Kerama Islands and captures advance bases and anchorages in preparation for the coming invasion by Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Raymond A. Spruance's Fifth Fleet that includes more than 40 aircraft carriers, 18 battleships, 200 destroyers and over 1,000 support ships.

28 March 1945:
Ryukyu Islands. Three days before the invasion, LtCdr Shinohara sights a convoy and begins pursuit. At 1805, he sends his last message: "Two enemy transports and four destroyers sighted 110 miles from Naha, bearing 150".

31 March 1945:
Off Kerama Retto, Okinawa. That night, Cdr W. R. Glennon's USS STOCKTON (DD-646) is screening a task group. STOCKTON is assisted in the ASW effort by Martin PBM "Mariner" seaplanes from tender USS CHANDELEUR (AV-10).

STOCKTON picks up a surface radar contact. She engages the contact - a surfaced submarine - that crash-dives. The destroyer soon makes a sound contact and then attacks with a salvo of depth charges. In seven attacks over the next four hours, Cdr Glennon expends all of his depth charges.

Cdr J. R. Hansen's MORRISON (DD-560) arrives just as I-8 surfaces, but she submerges immediately. MORRISON drops a pattern of eleven charges that forces LtCdr Shinohara to battle surface only 900 yards from the destroyer. He engages MORRISON with his deck guns. After a 30-minute fight, MORRISON's main armament of five 5-inch quick firing guns shatter and sink I-8. She capsizes and goes down by the stern at 25-29N, 128-35E. A small boat from MORRISON rescues an unconscious survivor, PO2C Mukai Takamasa, one of I-8's gun crew.

10 April 1945:
Presumed lost in Okinawa area.

10 August 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
[1] Despite its submarine cruiser designation the J-3 class was envisaged as the submarine flotilla flagships carrying a floatplane and an increased armament - a 5.5-inch (140-mm) 11th Year Type dual-mounted deck gun (2x1) and four 13-mm Type 93 machine guns (2x2). The 5.5-in twin deck gun was carried by both I-7 and I-8 as built.

Unlike the I-15 (B-1) class, the flagships of the J-3 were not capable of embarking the newer E14Y1 Type 0 "Glen" floatplanes which could not be accommodated in their twin storage tubes. I-8 carried the Watanabe E9W1 "Slim" biplane until fall 1944 when the associated equipment was landed.

[2] After this incident, double white bands, usually carried on the afterdeck, are introduced as a standard submarine ID aid.

[3] In April 43, Cdr Emi travels from Penang as a passenger aboard I-29, then transfers to U-180 to Bordeaux, France to observe the German U-boat construction techniques. In May 1944, Emi is lost returning to Japan as a passenger aboard RO-501 (former U-1224).

[4] When Japan entered the war, the Axis Tripartite agreement was 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.

[5] Although some NELLORE's survivors claimed that she was attacked by no less than three German U-boats, only I-8 was involved.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan, Andrew Obluski of Poland and Jean-Francois Masson of Canada. Special thanks go to Mr. William Jopes, a former Merchant Marine cadet aboard SS YAMHILL for providing her gunnery officer's deck log of the encounter with a Japanese submarine on 11 April 1944.

Photo credits go to the Imperial War Museum, London and Info Zentrum Flotte, Berlin.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

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