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A Submarine on North A Street?

Mini submarine on North A
The Japanese 2-man sub on North A Street in front of St. Mary’s Church.

During World War II, Americans were reminded daily to buy War Bonds to help finance the war effort.  One of the more unusual ways of raising money was the one pictured here.  At first glance the snapshot is quite strange.  A submarine on North A Street?  But that’s exactly what it is.  

The Pearl Harbor attack was a stunning success for the Japanese naval air force, but it’s not always remembered that they also sent several small submarines into the harbor to attack ships at anchor.  These ‘mini submarines’ were equipped with two torpedoes and two crew members. None of them succeeded in their mission, however. All were either captured or sunk.

This one was given a new role as part of the nationwide drive to raise funds for the war. It was loaded onto a flatbed truck and viewing windows installed on both sides. From late 1942 through the end of the war, it traveled around the country, and people could get a look inside if they purchased a War Bond, or a War Savings Stamp for children. By the start of August 1943 it had raised more than 3.5 million dollars.

Pal-Item ad announcing the submarine visit

Richmond’s original viewing time was to be Friday, August 6, for a few hours, but so many “tickets,” or War Bonds, had been purchased that it was brought in Thursday evening for a couple hours of viewing. The intended time of Friday, 11:00 to 2:30, was still conducted with additional features. The commanding officer of Fort Benjamin Harrison brought two tanks and a couple jeeps to be displayed as well.

People viewing interior
Richmond citizens peer inside from the north side of the sub. The YMCA building is in the background.

The Palladium-Item later reported that War Bond sales totaled more $5,000 with an additional $400 in Stamps. Then an unnamed individual purchased a $10,000 bond which swelled Richmond’s total.

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