In 2014, the WWII United States Army Transport (USAT) vessel Don Isidro, was declared as a protected historic shipwreck. The Don Isidro shipwreck is an important reminder of the sacrifices made by Australia’s allies protecting Australia and the broader defence effort in the Pacific during WWII. This declaration will ensure the legacy and associated relics of the USAT Don Isidro are protected.
The USAT Don Isidro was attacked by Japanese forces off the Northern Territory coast on the 19 February 1942 - the same day Darwin was attacked for the first time by Japanese forces. The Don Isidro was badly damaged and the ship’s captain and crew were forced to abandon the burning vessel.
The Don Isidro drifted until the ship beached in shallow waters off the shores of Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory.
Built in 1939, originally as a luxury passenger vessel, the Don Isidro was commissioned as a transport ship by the United States Government. It was intended to be used to break the Japanese blockade to deliver much-needed rations and ammunition to Allied troops in the Philippines.
On 19 February 1942, the Don Isidro was off the northern coast of Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory - heading towards Darwin - when it was attacked by Japanese fighter planes and bombers.
The Don Isidro’s crew of 16 American soldiers and 67 Filipino merchant seamen bravely fought against the first wave of attacks from Japanese fighter planes before the vessel was damaged by a second wave of attack from a group of Japanese dive bombers. These attacks resulted in the loss of the Don Isidro;13 of its Filipino merchant seamen, and of Second Lieutenant Joseph Kane, the commander of the ship’s defence team.
On 18 February 2013 a Memorial Wall to the Allied Fallen was officially opened at the Darwin Military Museum. The names of Filipinos from the Don Isidro were honoured, together with three crewmen from the sunken freighter SS Florence D, when the Northern Territory Government and Philippine Ambassador to Australia jointly unveiled a commemorative plaque.
The Filipino crew from the SS Don Isidro who died on 19 February 1942 included:
- Antonio CORDOVA, Oiler
- Raul DELGADO, Machinist
- Loreto JAIME, 2nd Engineer
- Melchor JARUVILLA, 3rd Engineer
- Alberto JIMENEA, Oiler
- Amado LOGNO, Cook
- Maximo MANGAN, Chief Engineer
- Agapito MASANGKAY, Steward
- Frederico MONTALEGRA, Chief Electrician
- Antonio REYNES, Extra Engineer
- Quirino SABANDO, Oiler.