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POW records shed light on Montevideo Maru mystery


POW war recordsTHE AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY in Tokyo recently took possession of Japan's World War II records on Australians held as prisoners of war, a mark of the close friendship between two former foes.

The records, which include name cards and related information, have been transferred to the Australian National Archives in Canberra.

Amongst the records of particular significance are the first complete list of Australian victims of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942 near Luzon in the Philippines.

The prison ship was carrying more than 1,000 civilians and troops from Rabaul to Hainan when it was torpedoed by the US submarine Sturgeon.

All the prisoners lost their lives but the records identifying who exactly was on the ship have never previously been sighted..

Over the coming months, the National Archives will restore and digitise the records for public access, allowing family members and historians better knowledge of Australia’s biggest disaster at sea.


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Mrs Priscilla Cox

To Whom It May Concern,
I am seeking information about John Eshott Carr who was a friend of my late mother when they were both at the Friends' School in Hobart in the 1930s. John E. Carr was a prisoner of war aboard the Montevideo Maru. He was the son of Nellie and Cedric Errol Carr. After the death of his father in Papua New Guinea in 1936, he was legally adopted by his mother's sister, Stella, and her husband Colonel Robert Mowbray Winston Thirkell.
Another Gunner who was also in the Lark Force (but escaped and made his way back to Australia) was named Laurence William Sawford. Before Laurence's death in 1913, he told his family that someone had gone (possibly to Rabaul), in search of John Carr when he was reported missing. Do you have any information regarding that person? (It may or may not have been his adoptive father, Robert M.W. THIRKELL... If you have any letters/documents regarding this query, it would be greatly appreciated. I have his war history and there is a letter from R.M.W.THIRKELL inquiring about John.Also,if you have any information about John's mother, Nellie Carr it would also be highly appreciated.

Stephen James

I am trying to find any information regarding Charles Eric Houghton. I think that he was a prisoner of war aboard the Montevideo Maru. He and his wife Violet had a copra plantation in Rabal prior to the war.

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