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Press Release: War secrets revealed

Issued: 29 August 2006

RARE details of Japanese submariners building a float plane off Cape Otway emerged when a party of World War Two veterans returned to the concrete bunker where they served more than 60 years ago.

Peter Yeomans served at RAAF Radar Station Number 13, otherwise known as The Doover, at Cape Otway in early 1943 as a teenager but has strong memories of the moonlit, calm night he observed a Japanese submarine surface.

At a special ceremony at the newly refurbished radar bunker, Mr Yeomans, of Beaumaris, said: “The Japanese opened up a hatch and proceeded to spend an hour constructing a float plane.

“The pilot then proceeded to take off and head towards Melbourne, about half an hour later the plane landed near the sub, they packed it up and off they went.’‘

His memories of serving at the Cape include having to scale a 50 foot antenna in high winds, to secure the vital piece of coastal surveillance equipment.

Mr Yeomans and other members of the RAAF Radar crew visited the renovated Doover for the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to those who served at Cape Otway between 1942.

Lightstation staff recorded the veterans’ memories which will be used in a history collection and signage for the site.

Lightstation manager Paul Thompson said the veterans’ memories were vital to interpreting the site which was such a well-kept secret during the War that there isn’t a single photograph in existence of the Doover in action or any of the people who served there.

The rare bunker was built following the loss of the US merchant navy vessel the SS City of Rayville. It was sunk in November 1940 after hitting a German-laid mine off Cape Otway.

Mr Thompson said the dedication ceremony was held as part of International Lighthouse Day celebrations on August 19 & 20.

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