Hofuku Maru

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Redcap, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Dutch POW are listed on pages 23 to 25
    see also:
    Hofuku Maru (dead 140)

    Hofuku Maru (survivors 29)

    Japanese vessel Toyofuko Maru sunk by carrier-based aircraft from USN Task Force 38
    mentioned in:
    US Army/Japanese Monograph No. 12
    Philippines Air Operations Record, Phase III, August 1944 - February 1945

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Thanks again. I have not see the Klein book but I am not certain his lists online are complete. I worked on them a long time ago. I am not a huge fan of the spreadsheet but I think I am close to a complete list.

    There is a long story to what the Swiss Red Cross received and what the Japanese PWIB work after the war found, and Australian investigations into shipping war crimes also reference the Japanese Prisoner of War Investigation Bureau and its failure to produce contemporary lists. An Australian Flight Lieutenant knew more about British lost on "hell ships" than anyone, but only in terms of investigating war crimes.

    When the Americans released some of the prisoners in the Philippines in the famous "raid" the press got hold of the story. That, in turn, woke up the British Cas. PW who had completely neglected to press the Swiss to ask the JPWIB for a list of Hofuku casualties. The Swiss messages about lost and saved arrived very late on in the course of the war.

    As for the Dutch, I have got the book " De Gele Hel" by "H.Porte" ( a nom de plume ) which I have "translated" using Google translate but there no lists in the book. It is rather a good book but I have not completed the early chapters.

    I'll post a further contemporary statement shortly.
  3. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    try "DeepL" instead, it´s far better
    papiermache likes this.
  4. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Note the dates and places of HM survivors from the Philippines returned to England by April 1945:


    WO361/1775 SS/330/82/1/Cas PW

    0103/4347 SECRET



    Dropmore Camp - 3/4 April, 1945.

    Curzon Street House - 17 April, 1945.

    Bower Wood Camp - 20 April, 1945.

    All of the party was captured at Singapore and confined at CHANGI.

    They were sent to BANPONG, SIAM, in June 1942 in No.2 Group.

    Here they were employedon road-making and camp building.

    In October 1942 the party moved to CHONGKWAI.

    In November they were joined by the prisoners from No.4 Group.

    During the construction of the railway they occupied various camps in the neighbour of THA
    KHANUN, their stretch of the railway was to the North-West of No.4 Group's stretch.

    No.1 Group occupied HNONG PLA DUK and THA MAKAN. No.3, 5 and 6 Groups were on
    the BURMA end of the line.

    Conditions in No.2 Group during the construction of the railway were
    generally similar to those in other groups.

    Collective punishments were common and discipline was normally enforced by beatings, at least one of which was fatal.

    Officers were made to work by a threat that their men would be given no rations.

    Their work was bridge-making and cable-laying.

    The cholera epidemic commenced in May, 1943.

    The disease spread down the river through bodies being thrown into the water.

    The lack of sanitary precautions on the part of NEI prisoners was criticised.

    The casualty rate among "F" and "H" Forces, sent from Malaya to the railway
    in the summer of 1943, was exceptionally high, (possibly 50%).

    Captain Gibson estimated total white casualties in SIAM at 17,000.

    Higher estimates were made by other members of the party.

    Names of the dead were carefully recorded by officers.

    In the larger cemeteries, plans of the graves are buried under the
    main crosses, for identification purposes in case the marked crosses on individual
    graves are destroyed.

    The sick were evacuated to THA MAKAN in the latter part of May, 1943.

    The Senior British Officer of this Hospital Camp was Lieut.-Colonel TOOSEY, R.A.

    In October, the prisoners were moved to CHONGKWAI, to make room for Australians.

    There were about 9,000 prisoners in this camp, and 1,000 graves in the cemetery.

    Sick men continued to arrive by barge and train, many dying on the way.

    The death rate in CHONGKWAI was 20 per day during November and December 1943.

    The railway was completed in November 1943, and the evacuation was carried
    out between December and February.

    Conditions at CHONGKWAI, steadily improved.

    The Camp was reconstructed under the direction of Major OUTRAM, R.A., who acted as Senior British Officer.

    In January 1944 a party of 400 fit men were sent to build a hospital camp at

    This is a well laid out camp with wooden huts.

    Shelter trenches in these camps were provided for the Japanese guards only.

    The prisoners were ordered to stay in the huts during air-raids.

    It was believed that casualties had occurred among P.W. during an air-raid on PRANG KAZI.

    There were frequent air-raid alerts.

    Sometimes a Red Cross Flag was displayed at CHONGKWAI.

    Quinine was given regularly in the Hospital camps, but there was a
    continuing shortage of other medical supplies.

    About 2,000 Prisoners of War were selected from CHONGKWAI for transfer to

    In this party the ratio of officers to men was 1 to 150.

    No officer above the rank of Captain was chosen.

    The party entrained for SINGAPORE on1st June; the journey lasted four days.

    They saw no other prisoners of war on the way.

    / In

    { P1320469 }

    In SINGAPORE, the party was accommodated in RIVER VALLEY ROAD Camp.

    They made contact with some Indian P.W., who were delighted to see British officers

    There were some British prisoners at CHANGHI, including a number of sick,
    but no contact could be made with them.

    Captain GIBSON and 1,250 men embarked on the HOFOKO MARU on 26th June.

    After much discussion, a certain number of prisoners were allowed to stay on deck after
    the ship left SINGAPORE, but most of the men were confined in two holds, already
    partly filled with cargo.

    The mens health, which had been undermined by bad feeding in SINGAPORE, suffered from the bad accommodation and lack of sufficient food and water.

    The ship was delayed at MIRI, ( BORNEO ) by a broken engine.

    She made MANILA Harbour on 23rd July, and remained here until 20th September.

    While in harbour, 96 men died.

    The British doctors did everything possible to save lives, but their only medical supplies were two cases of American Red Cross material, most of which was taken by the Japanese.

    After many appeals, the Japanese allowed 50 of the worst cases, only, to be taken to a camp in MANILA.

    Conditions on board the ship were appalling.

    The HOFOKU MARU finally sailed on 20th March.(sic)

    She was bombed and sunk by American aircraft on 21st September.

    71 prisoners of war got ashore on rafts and driftwood.

    Of these, 63 were recaptured and taken to BILIBID and CABANATUAN
    and 8 ( including Captain GIBSON and three Dutch P.W. ) made contact with the
    guerrilla forces.

    161 prisoners of war were picked up by Japanese boats, and
    were taken to BILIBID.

    The remaining prisoners died in the holds or in the water.

    ( NOTE: There are slight discrepancies between the figures given above, obtained
    from interrogations, and those given in Colour-Serjeant BEACH's Diary ).

    The remainder of the party from SIAM, consisting of 750 men under Captain
    R. HALL, R.A. left SINGAPORE on the ARSARKA (?) MARU on 4th July, ( having
    embarked on 18th June).

    Conditions were similar to those on the HOFOKU MAKU.

    She made MANILA on 16th July, and remained in harbour for some time.

    As far as is known, only 3 men died on board this ship.

    Colour Sergeant BEACH and 20 other sick men, were taken on shore to BILIBID.

    31 sick were similarly landed on 25th June.

    The remaining prisoners on board this ship are known to have
    reached JAPAN, cards having been received from OSAKA Camp.

    Conditions in BILIBID and CABANATUAN were much better than in the camps in

    Red Cross supplies were comparitively abundant.

    Drafts were taken from the camps to JAPAN at intervals, as mentioned in the appended diary.

    It is thought that 40 British prisoners of war were on board the transport which was
    sunk in December.

    The Japanese do not appear to have made any effort to remove the prisoners
    at BILIBID or CABANATUAN when the American forces landed.

    Orders were issued that the prisoners must remain in the camps; if found outside, they would be treated as combatants.

    Captain GIBSON and the other members of this party spoke highly of the
    excellent treatment which they had received at the hands of all American and
    Australian authorities concerned in their repatriation.

    P.W.2.(c) James Leigh
    Curzon St. House, W.1. Major
    MAYfair 9400/Ext....
    4 May, 1945


    A.G. M.I.9 ( 4 copies) H.C. for Canada
    D.A.G.(A) P.W.2. (b) & (c) ( A. Bell, Esq.)
    D.P.W. P.W.3. 5. H.C. for Australia
    D.D.P.W. F.4. (PW) ( Maj. J.L. Lenehan) (3 copies)
    D.D.M.I./PW Cas.(PW) (3 copies) India Office ( A.R. Swinnerton)
    D.F.(d) PW Liaison Officer Colonial Office ( Lt. Col. Cole)
    M.O.12. B.A.S. Washington Air Ministry ( Group Capt. Burgess)
  5. James Erickson

    James Erickson New Member

    I have the complete roster of Hofuku Maru compiled from numerous sources. I've attached a pdf that summarizes what happened to the 1287 men who were put aboard. The biggest remaining mystery is how many died aboard ship before the sinking. I was able to confirm 27 names, but the real total is likely much larger.

    Attached Files:

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  6. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Good evening, Professor !
    You are very welcome here to guide me in my attempts to find out as much as I can about the vessel upon which my uncle died, almost certainly on the 21st September 1944.

    The real total of those who died on board is much larger than twenty-seven, unfortunately, and I can tell you how I computed my total but that will take some time. I will send you a conversation, if the email does not function.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
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  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Agree. You will have the actual figures. I would only add that Captain Gibson in his later report says 'By the time we sailed from Manila Bay on September 20 over one hundred had died'.

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  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Tim. I've exchanged lists with the Prof and discussed what I should do next.
  9. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    There is a phrase in a note on a War Office file, M926, now WO361/758: which says:

    " Cas. PW have eliminated 64 showing dead; released Report. Doms{?} Com{?} Admiralty. 1 no trace = Missing now 692 ( as per SBs ). Total BM rec'd in Missing Section up to or including 16/10/43 = 496." { See photo attached.}

    I interpret that as saying 64 were already dead before the sinking. The true figure is higher than 64, but very hard to find, and I always try to find the source of the information. This could be in files from local archives or WO 361 at Kew, etc. ( I let the Prof know where I am with my research: we share information. )

    After October 1945 the Japanese Prisoner of War Information Bureau continued working on the lists in Tokyo under US supervision. SBs are telegrams or cables from the Swiss Red Cross who had received cables from the Japanese PWIB listing men as missing, alive, etc.. These cables were dated many months after the sinking.The Swiss then sent cables either to the British or Dutch authorities under their own Swiss references. The British then gave SB numbers to the cables. So a cable would have three references, Japanese, Swiss, and British. The Japanese had several files on the subject.

    A BM is a Branch Memorandum or a file on an individual man.

    As at October 16th 1945 there were no BMs for 196 individuals. That does not necessarily mean that they had died, just that the authorities had not exhausted all sources of information: e.g, interviews or statements from returning POWs, statements taken by other allies or Japanese records, etc.

    Attached Files:

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