Japanese Hell Ships - POW Deaths

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by spidge, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. spidge


    A tribute to the 21,039 POW's who were killed predominantly by Allied submarines while being transported on Japanese ships.


    This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness.


    <table bgcolor="#ffffff" border="0" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td bgcolor="#d2def2">Death at Sea in World War 2.</td></tr><tr><td>
    <table border="0" cellpadding="8" width="90%"><tbody><tr><td valign="top" width="70%">
    In the Pacific Ocean in WW2, thousands of lives were lost when both Allied POW's and Javanese native conscripts died at sea as a result of Allied Submarine torpedoes. In his book, "Death on the Hell Ships," author Gregory F. Micheno covers this subject.
    Cover of the book Death on the Hell Ships, by Gregory F. Micheno,
    and published by Pen and Sword. Ltd.
    Movement of Allied POW's and Javanese native labourers.
    Over the period 1942-1945, thousands of Allied POW's and Javanese natives were transported by sea in these well named HELL SHIPS. Sometimes it was moving them from one island to another island for work related purposes, on other occasions, POW's were on their way from Japanese occupied territory to the Japanese homeland.
    Allied Submarines take their toll.
    Micheno reports that 126,064 Allied POW's were moved aboard these Hell Ships in the 1942-1945 time span, and that the dreadful total of 21,039 died as a result of Allied attacks, mostly by submarines on these transport ships.
    Montevideo Maru.
    I have already covered this tragedy on AHOY, but will briefly revisit this sinking. On the 1st. of July 1942, this 7,266 ton ship en route from Rabaul to Hainan, was loaded with 1,050 men, including Lark Force, 2/22 Battalion who had been involved in defending Rabaul against the Japanese onslought there. About 200 civilians, many of them administration personnel were also onboard.
    USS Sturgeon struck Montevideo Maru with 2 torpedoes at 0225 ( 2.25 AM ) and she was gone in only 11 minutes, taking 1,053 with her. The attack was off Leyte in the Philippines, and the ship sank in very deep water, there is talk at the moment, of a dive on Monevideo Maru having recently taken place, or of one planned in the near future, but, if this is fact, it is shrouded in secrecy, and I have not been able to extract even the slightest whisper about such events.
    Tango Maru.
    In February of 1943, the 6,200 ton cargo vessel, Tango Maru, crammed with 3,500 Javanese labourers and some hundreds of Allied POW's, was plying between Java and Ambon. US Submarine Rasher, using 3 torpedoes sunk this ship, and only about 500 native people survived.
    USS Paddle sank the Shinyo Maru in September of 1944. Only 83 American POW's from 750 survived.
    Shinyo Maru.
    On the 7th. of September 1944, the US Submarine Paddle, lined up this 5,065 ton transport Shinyo Maru, slipped torpedoes into her, and down she quickly went. From 750 American POW's on board but 83 lived to come home again.
    Memorial Plaque dedicated to the 83 American survivors
    from the sinking of Shinyo Maru by USS Paddle.
    Rakuyo Maru.
    The US Submarine Sealion11, with 2 torpedoes soon disposed of the 9,418 ton Rakyo Maru, she was on her way to Japan from Singapore, carrying 1,318 British and Australian POW's, they were being moved to slave in the coal mines of Japan. 1,023 died, some of them chopped up by the propellors of the Japanese warship escorts as they sought to find the submarine responsible for sinking this transport.
    Junyo Maru.
    The 5,065 ton Japanese freighter Junyo Maru, loaded to her plimsol line with 5,620 Javanese conscripts was nailed by the British Submarine Tradewind on the 17th. of September 1944. Only 900 came out of this sinking alive. This tragedy was the largest single loss of life of any of the Hell Ship sinkings. Both HM Submarine Tradewind, and her Captain survived WW2, the submarine continued to serve in the Royal Navy until going into the Reserve Fleet at Portsmouth in 1953, she was scrapped two years later.
    HM Submarine Tradewind.
    This has only scraped the surface of the Hell Ships story, and blame could hardly be laid at the door of Allied Submarine Captains, who were not to know the cargo carried in these ships. It was rather that the Japanese authorities were culpable in not marking their ships with the safety of a Red Cross to indicate that POW's were on board.
    Thousands perished, when lives may well have been spared if appropriate markings were placed on these dreadful ships, although the German U-Boats did not spare many British Hospital ships so marked in wartime.</td></tr></tbody></table></td></tr></tbody></table>
  2. ian thomson

    ian thomson Junior Member

    researching family tree my mums brother was lost on the lisbon maru.his name was pte alexander buchan burnett 2nd bat royal scots he came from aberedeen if anyone has any info or photos i would be grateful.ian
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Ian,

    Here he is on the Cofepow website database. That is an early date for capture, pre-Singapore and the main surrender of British troops.

    Record Details

    Someone with more general knowledge than I will undoubtedly tell where the capture was likely to have been? Possibly Burma during the retreat?

    This website is very good for your line of enquiry, in fact they were only recently discussing one of the Hellships.

    Fepow Community

    Try posting on their community forum.

  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Ian,

    Here he is again on the Lisbon Maru website created by Tony Banham, who is a prominent researcher into Far East POW's and someone you may well want to contact.

    The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru

    Good luck.

  5. northfitz1

    northfitz1 Junior Member

    hi forum, not sure if this is the right link to put this , its on, the sinking of the Montevideo Maru,the website , keith jackson's PNG Attitude,
    my grandmother's brother was aboard ?this hellship private Arthur william o'neill ,VX28900,
    about time , was a comment from a relative of mine, expletives, removed.
    cheers dave
  6. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron

    researching family tree my mums brother was lost on the lisbon maru.his name was pte alexander buchan burnett 2nd bat royal scots he came from aberedeen if anyone has any info or photos i would be grateful.ian


    This is the action report for the USS Grouper, the submarine which sank the Lisbon Maru, for 1st October.

    Subject: USS GROUPER – Report of Second War Patrol
    1 October
    Heading for the southwesterly tip of area to pick up the traffic from the South to SHANGHAI. With nine sampans in sight, closest 200 yards, sighted 7000 ton freighter. Night too bright for surface attack. Paced target for course and speed and took position ahead prior to daylight. While taking position passed within 4000 yards of two fishing boats (about 150’) equipped with the normal high intensity fishing lights and side lights. At daylight target changed course about 50° to the left leaving us in poor positions. Dove and began approach. At 0704 fired three torpedoes (G, 1R, 1L) at closest range attainable (3200yds). TDC checking. No hits. Target remained on course. TDC still checking on so fired one more torpedo. In 2 min, 10 sec, heard loud explosion. Raised periscope and observed target. It had changed course about 50° to the right, angle on the bow now 40° Starboard. Could see no signs of damage. Continued checking ranges and bearings and found that target stopped. Headed for position abeam to Starboard for straight bow shot. Target meanwhile hoisted a flag resembling “BAKER” and was firing at us with what sounded like a small calibre gun. Sharp explosions were all around us. At 0845 reached firing position for a 0° gyro, 80° track, range 1000 yards. Fired on TDC with six (6’) foot depth setting of torpedo. No explosion. Target had now developed a slight list to starboard. Didn't wish to use another bow torpedo so worked around to stern tube 180° gyro, 80° track, torpedo depth steering 0’. Just prior to last setup observed a light bomber Mitsubishi Davai 108 (type 97) over target. Fire within one minute thereafter. Did not wait to see results. Went to 100 feet with hard left rudder. Loud explosion in 40 seconds, definitely torpedoish. About two minutes after firing, pattern of three charges were dropped from plane. None close. Periscope depth at 1000. Visibility through periscope a good 18,000 yards. Saw same plane, but target had disappeared. Seeing that target hadn’t moved for 2 hrs, 35 min, assume she sunk. Target was heavily laden, her original speed checked at 8 knots. Sound conditions were poor. Could not hear own screws. Went to 120’ silent running to clear area. Will stay at periscope depth next time. 1119 depth charge attack. Came to periscope depth at 1530 and stayed there. Sighted sampan. At 1904 heard several depth charges at long range. Hear three more within next ten minutes. Dusk had settled. Sky overcast, visibility poor through periscope. At 1905 sighted lights astern. Decided to surface and remove ourselves while the removing was good. Battery 1150. Surfaced 1910 on Broadway. Ten lights were visible around the horizon, closest 1½ hours run at flank speed saw high powered searchlight being played around in the vicinity in which we had surfaced. The last depth charges might have been dropped promiscuously to keep us down until arrival of patrol vessels equipped with searchlights. Headed for shipping lane between FORMOSA and the Northeast as determined from plot of contacts of former patrols.

    USS Grouper Jun 42 _ Dec 42 Page 37.jpg

    USS Grouper Jun 42 _ Dec 42 Page 38.jpg

    USS Grouper Jun 42 _ Dec 42 Page 39.jpg
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    papiermache likes this.

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