The History Channel has commissioned a two part documentary on the sinking of the Japanese POW transport ship, the Montevideo Maru.
It will retell the forgotten story of when, on July 1, 1942, a Japanese ship – the Montevideo Maru – was torpedoed in the early hours of the morning off the coast of The Philippines by the American submarine, the USS Sturgeon.
What the Americans did not realise at the time was that the ship was in fact a floating prison – holding over 1,000 Australian POWs and civilians. Not one of them survived.
But some descendents of the Australians still fiercely resist the official version and believe their men were executed in New Guinea. They believe the ship’s passenger list was “padded” by the Japanese to try to cover up war crimes.
There is enormous confusion over the nominal roll, which was apparently lost from the national archives after being brought back from Japan by post-war investigators.
Foxtel’s Jim Buchan, said “The History Channel is thrilled to be able to continue our commitment to commissioning vital Australian documentaries for our national audience. In the tradition of event television such as The Battle of Long Tan, Beyond Kokoda, and He’s Coming South, we regard the visual documentation of Australia’s history an important part of remembering the legacy left behind by Australia’s brave men and women for the next generation.”
The Tragedy of the Montevideo Maru to be produced by John Schindler will air on The History Channel in late 2009.