WWII: Acting Leading Signalman Buchanan

Acting Leading Signalman Buchanan Acting Leading Signalman Buchanan, who was born in Port Chalmers in 1920, joined the Otago division of the Naval Reserve.

Buchanan was posted to HMNZS KIWI when she and HMNZS MOA engaged the Japanese submarine I-1 near Cape Esperance on 29th January 1943.

KIWI was patrolling a line off Komimbo Bay when an ASDIC contact was made at 3000 yards and classified as a submarine. MOA was unable to confirm the contact, but KIWI attacked with depth charges. A second attack resulted in the submarine becoming stationary. ASDIC contact was lost, but it was reported that the submarine was on the surface and an immediate decision was made to ram. The 4-inch gun's star shell failed to detonate.  KIWI first rammed the submarine just aft of the conning tower. Then KIWI's gunfire began to hit the submarine, which had landing craft lashed on deck. Despite having been holed, the submarine continued to make about nine knots through the water. A further attempt to ram delivered only a glancing blow aft that probably damaged the hydroplanes. During this part of the attack, it was observed that a person on the conning tower was hit by gunfire.

Acting Leading Signalman Buchanan was in charge of the searchlight. Throughout the attack, he trained the searchlight and 10-inch signal lamp on the submarine. Even though he was mortally wounded, he remained at his post until relieved. He died on the 31st January 1943.

Buchanan was the only casualty during this ferocious action. He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the United States Navy Cross posthumously.

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