Naval officer. On March 2, 1942, during the Battle of the Java Sea, which began on February 27, 1942, Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudo, ordered his crew on the destroyer "Inazuma" to rescue 442 survivors from the Royal Navy destroyer HMS "Encounter" and United States Navy destroyer USS "Pope." These ships had been sunk the previous days, along with HMS "Exeter." The survivors had been adrift for some 20 hours, in rafts and lifejackets or clinging to floats, many coated in oil and unable to see. These sailors had reached the limits of their endurance when the Japanese destroyer "Ikazuchi" appeared before their eyes. Lieutenant Commander Kudo and his 220 men were on board. Kudo gave an order to rescue the enemy sailors. They hoisted the international maritime signal flag to indicate that rescue operations were in progress and bravely set about rescuing the survivors. This had been a never before seen humanitarian act, as the rescue required almost all of the 220 of the Japanese soldiers to leave their posts, exposing the "Ikazuchi" to enemy attack and consume much more fuel than needed. Kudo landed all his prisoners to safety. Subsequently, all crew involved in the rescue were sunk together with the "Ikazuchi," except Kudo, who had since assumed command over a different ship. Kudo kept silent after the war and it was only through one former British sailor, who had come to Japan to find and thank Kudo, that the Japanese people were able to find out about the honorable actions of Kudo and his crew.
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