When Penang Was an Axis Submarine Base

By Eugene Quah

December 2023 LEST WE FORGET
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The transfer of Subhas Chandra Bose from U-180 (right) to the Penang-based Japanese submarine I-29 (left) in the Mozambique Channel near Madagascar in 1943. The Japanese also launched submarine operations from Penang to drop Indian National Army spies in India. SOURCE: Netaji Research Bureau | File:01_PenSub.jpg
ON THE MORNING of 27 April 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser submarine I-29, codenamed Matsu, was sailing slowly through choppy waters up the Mozambique Channel, between Madagascar and the east coast of the African continent. The behemoth submarine was as long as a football field and could carry a small seaplane and a crew of 94.The submarine was “ostensibly on a routine mission hunting enemy ships”. It was captained by the flotilla commander himself, Captain Teraoka—an odd choice for the apparently...

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Eugene Quah

is an independent researcher and writer who is working on a book tentatively called “Illustrated Guide to the North Coast of Penang”. He rediscovered the joys of writing after moving back to Penang from abroad.