If you’re an avid fan of all-things-WWII (World War II), you may be interested with this bronze bell from a sunken Japanese Destroyer Murakumo.
I bumped into this item while scouting for things on eBay (yes, you can find interesting stuff there, sometimes). The bronze bell belonged to the destroyer shown below which was “destroyed” in 1942 after the battle of Cape Esperance.
While this bronze bell or the Japanese Destroyer for that matter may not be related so much to North Borneo’s history, during WWII the vessel was heavily involved in Japanese military operations around the waters of South East Asia particularly near Kelantan in Malaya and probably around the West coast of British North Borneo as well. It surely has docked in the port of Singapore based on the history of the ship.
A full introduction of the destroyer is described below on the sales page:
Murakumo (叢雲 “Massed Clouds”?) was a Fubuki class destroyer, she was the fifth of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.
Murakumo, built at the Fujinagata Shipyards in Osaka was laid down on April 25, 1927, launched on September 27, 1928 and commissioned on May 10, 1929.
At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Murakumo was assigned to Destroyer Division 12 of Desron 3 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and had deployed from Kure Naval District to the port of Samah on Hainan Island. From 4 December to 12 December, she covered Japanese landings at Kota Bharu in Malaya. From 16 December, Murakumo was assigned to cover Japanese landings during “Operation B” in British Borneo. During this operation, Murakumo engaged the Dutch submarine K-XVI with depth charges after the submarine had torpedoed Sagiri. Although Murakumo claimed credit for sinking K-XVI, credit was later awarded to submarine I-66.
In February 1942, Murakumo was part of the escort for the heavy cruiser Chōkai during “Operation L”, the invasion of Banka-Palembang and Anambas Islands. Murakumo joined the Western Java invasion force, and was in the Battle of Sunda Strait on 1 March, assisting in the sinking of the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth and the American cruiser USS Houston. On 10 March, Murakumo was reassigned to Destroyer Division 20 of Desron3 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and subsequently was involved in “Operation T” (the invasion of northern Sumatra) on 12 March and the “Operation D”, (the invasion of the Andaman Islands) on 23 March. From 13–22 April Murakumo returned via Singapore and Camranh Bay to Kure Naval Arsenal, for maintenance.
On 4–5 June 1942, Murakumo participated in the Battle of Midway as part of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s main fleet.
In July 1942, Murakumo sailed from Amami-Oshima to Mako Guard District, Singapore, Sabang and Mergui for a projected second Indian Ocean raid. The operation was cancelled due to the Guadalcanal campaign, and Murakumo was ordered to Truk instead. From August onwards, Murakumo was used for “Tokyo Express” high speed transport missions in the Solomon Islands. On one of this missions, on 4–5 September, Murakumo assisted in sinking the USS Gregory (APD-3) and (USS Little (APD-4).
On another mission on 11–12 October 1942, as Murakumo was attempting to assist Japanese cruiser Furutaka in aftermath of the Battle of Cape Esperance, she was attacked by Allied aircraft. Three near-misses, a torpedo hit and then a bomb hit left the ship unmaneuverable and aflame, with 22 crewmen dead. Shirayuki rescued survivors, including Murakumo skipper Lieutenant Commander Higashi, then scuttled Murakumo with a torpedo 90 nautical miles (170 km) west-northwest of Savo Island at position 08°40′S 159°20′ECoordinates: 08°40′S 159°20′E.
On 15 November 1942, Murakumo was removed from the navy list.
Many of the battles fought around Borneo island during WWII are not widely discussed or publicised. One example is the Allied military operations in Labuan and Brunei Bay.
I hope in my lifetime someone would be able to produce a movie or mini series of the battles in Borneo, something similar to The Pacific.
Now, if you have the money, would you buy this bell?
Image via Wikipedia