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Ensign Sakamaki, Kazuo

The midget submarine I-24A, that is, the boat carried by the I-15 class submarine I-24, was commanded by Ensign Sakamaki with PO 2/c Kiyoshi Inagaki as crew. The captain of I-24, Lieutenant Commander Hiroshi Hanabusa, asked Sakamaki before his departure from the mother ship how he would manage with a defective navigational gyroscope, but the Ensign declared he would go anyhow. At 0333 on 7 December they set off and immediately became aware of further faults. The trim was defective and they kept surfacing, so Sakamaki and Inagaki struggled to redistribute the ballast. Eventually they took a fix on the entrance to Pearl Harborand submerged to proceed by magnetic compass. By about 0815 they were in the entrance, but were seen by Helm and came under fire. At about the same time they struck Tripod Reef and Sakamaki was knocked out. Some time later they were depth charged, possibly by Ward. Towards noon they could see smoke billowing up from Pearl Harbor, which raised their spirits, and they managed to get clear of the reef. Unfortunately it became clear that one torpedo tube was damaged and inoperable. Sakamaki checked his batteries as the afternoon wore on and realized he did not have enough power to reach the pick-up rendezvous two miles south west of Lanai, so they had another try at entering Pearl Harbor. They failed and must have passed out, for they awoke in darkness, exhausted, tried again, failed again, and then set course for Lanai. The hatch was open and they slept. When they awoke at about midnight they thought they had reached the island, but in fact they were off Kailua, near Bellows Field Air Base. The engine then failed, so they set the demolition charges and abandoned ship, swimming for shore. Inagaki disappeared. The explosives failed. Sakamaki awoke on shore under the gaze of Sergeant David M. Akui, and, for Japanese and Americans, the first prisoner of World War II had been taken.

See also: Bellows Field; Helm; Lanai; midget submarine; Pearl Harbor; Ward; Weddington, Leonard

You can find out more about Japanese forces in World War II in the following Osprey books:

AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES 13 Japanese Army Aces 1937-45; AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES 22 Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45; CAMPAIGN 62 Pearl Harbor 1941