Guam Midget Submarine
Santa Rita Village, Guam
A captured Japanese Type C Kōhyōteki midget submarine is on display in front
of the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center in the War in the Pacific National
Historical Park on the island of Guam. The sign in front of the midget submarine
gives the following information in English, Japanese, and Chamorro (spoken by the
indigenous Chamorro people on Guam):
This two-man submarine ran aground at Guam's Togcha Beach in mid-August 1944
while on a mission to attack American shore facilities. The battle for Guam had
ended more than a week before.
Although Japan built more than 2,000 midget submarines between 1934 and 1945
and deployed them throughout the Pacific, these subs were credited with sinking
only one ship during all of World War II.
It is unclear why the sign says that the submarine had a crew of two, since a
Type C Kōhyōteki midget submarine had a crew of three (Delgado et al. 2016, 92;
Warner and Seno 1986, 173).
A guidebook published by the War in the Pacific National Historical Park
indicates that the National Park Service conducted extensive restoration work on
the midget submarine in 2009-10 to give visitors a better idea of what it looked
like in 1944 when it ran aground. In 2000, the midget submarine was listed in
the National Register of Historic Places.
Delgado et al. (2016, 100) writes about the crew of the midget submarine that
ran aground, "Reportedly, three days after the discovery of the craft, the three
crew members surrendered to US forces from their hiding place near the beach,
but the account may be apocryphal." Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 222-3) mentions only the
loss of 14 midget submarine crewmen at Saipan (120 miles north of Guam) and
Tinian (about 5 miles from Saipan) during July 1944 and no losses in the area in
The Japanese Tokkōtai (Special Attack Forces) Commemoration Peace Memorial
Association recognizes deaths by midget submarine crewmen as deaths by special
(suicide) attack even though the causes of many deaths are difficult to
differentiate between special attacks and other reasons (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
1990, 220). The most famous midget submarine attacks were at Pearl Harbor, Sydney Harbor, and Diégo Suarez Harbor in Madagascar. A total of 440 midget submarine crewmen died
during the Pacific War (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 220-35) .
1. The Ōurasaki
Special Attack Base (P Base) Monument gives the total number of midget
submarine crewmen deaths during the Pacific War as 439, and the
Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association plaque in front of Yasukuni
Jinja Yushukan shows 436.
Delgado, James P., Terry Kerby, Hans K. Van Tilburg,
Steven Price, Ole Varmer, Maximilian D. Cremer, and Russell Matthews. 2016.
The Lost Submarines of Pearl
Harbor: The Rediscovery and Archaeology of Japan's Top-Secret Midget
Submarines of World War II. College Station, TX: Texas A&M
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.
Warner, Peggy, and Sadao Seno. 1986.
The Coffin Boats:
Japanese Midget Submarine Operations in the Second World War. London: Leo
Cooper in association with Secker & Warburg.
Front view of midget submarine on display in Guam
Rear view of midget submarine on display in Guam