Japanese crew of World War II mini sub commemorated in Sydney ceremony

Relatives of two Japanese sailors who vanished during a daring raid on Sydney Harbor 65 years ago cast a floral wreath and poured sake Monday on the ocean over a submarine wreck where their remains are thought to lie.

The tearful ceremony aboard an Australian warship several kilometers (miles) from Sydney's northern beaches was the families' first opportunity to pay respects since the wreck was discovered by amateur divers last year.

Sub-Lieutenant Katsuhisa Ban and Petty Officer Memoru Ashibe crewed one of three Japanese midget submarines that entered the harbor of Australia's largest city on May 31, 1942, to strike at moored allied shipping.

Two of the two-man submarines were destroyed in the harbor but the fate of the third, M24, remained a mystery until last year. The two sailors' remains are thought to still be inside the sand-filled and largely intact submarine, which is being left where it was discovered as a protected monument.

Ban's younger brother, Kazutomo Ban, 74, said the discovery of the wreck helped his family find closure.

"We were all feeling uneasy about where it was," Ban said through an interpreter. "So we are very happy the Australian divers found it."

Earlier, Australian and Japanese officials gathered with the 19 relatives at Garden Island naval base in the harbor for another ceremony where they were shown artifacts retrieved from the wreck.

The M24 fired two torpedoes during the audacious night raid that shocked Sydney. One narrowly missed the heavy cruiser USS Chicago and detonated under a ferry being used as sailors' sleeping quarters that was moored at Garden Island. The ferry sank, killing 21.

The second torpedo struck the base but failed to detonate.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova