RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(Sister ADEN MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

AFRICA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012 Bob Hackett


12 March 1917:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosen Kaisha as a 9,476-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line.

30 January 1918:
Launched and named AFRICA MARU.

28 February 1918:
Completed. AFRICA MARU can accommodate 241st Class and 372 3rd Class passengers and carries a crew of 110 men.

Placed in service on OSKís Hong Kong ~ Japan ~ Tacoma route. AFRICA MARU carries many Japanese immigrants to the Pacific Northwest.

December 1929 - June 1930:
AFRICA MARUís ports of call include Shanghai, Kobe, Yokkaichi, Shimizu (from May), Yokohama, Victoria, and Seattle.

1931:
Transferred to OSK's east African coast route.

October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). Converted to a troop transport and alloted Army No. 913.

8 December 1941: The Beginning of the Pacific War:
Anchored at Cap St. Jacques, Vichy French Indochina.

23-24 January 1942: The Invasion of Kendari, Celebes:
AFRICA MARU departs Davao, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyujiís (38) Kendari Invasion Force also consisting of five other troop transports carrying Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunzioís (40) Sasebo Combined SNLF escorted by DesRon 10ís light cruiser NAGARA, DesDiv 15ís HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, OYASHIO and NATSUSHIO, DesDiv 16ís TOKITSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and YUKIKAZE, MineSweepDiv 21ís W-7, W-8, W-9, W-11 and W-12, and SubChaser Div 1ís CH-1 and CH-2. The 11th Seaplane Tender Divisionís CHITOSE and MIZUHO provide distant support.

29-31 January 1942: The Invasion of Ambon Island, Ceram Island. Moluccas, Netherlands East Indies:
AFRICA MARU departs Bangka anchorage, near Menado, with the Ambon invasion convoy also consisting of transports YAMAGIRI, YAMAURA, RYOYO, MIIKE, ZENYO, LYONS, KIRISHIMA, HINO, KATSURAGI and YAMAFUKU MARUs

Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hatakeyama Koichiro's (39) (former CO of KINUGASA) No. 1 Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), elements of the Sasebo SNLF and the 228th Infantry Regiment.

Escort is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka (41)'s DesRon 2ís light cruiser JINTSU, DesDiv 8ís ASASHIO, MICHISHIO, ARASHIO and OSHIO, DesDiv 15ís HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, OYASHIO and NATSUSHIO, DesDiv 16ís TOKITSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and YUKIKAZE, MineSweepDiv 11ís W-7, W-8, W-9, W-11 and W-12, SubChasDiv 1ís CH-1 and CH-2, and Patrol Boat Squadron 1ís PB-34. Seaplane tenders CHITOSE and MIZUHO arrive at Ceram and provide air cover for the invasion convoy.

Landings proceed during the night of Jan 30-31 by the No. 1 Kure SNLF at Hitu-Iama on the North coast and by the IJAís 228th Infantry Regiment on the southern coast of Laitamor. The defenders are at a disadvantage to contest the landings as only a few Dutch detachments are in the area. At Hitu-Iama on the north coast, the defending infantry and machine-gun crews are quickly overwhelmed and bridges on the road leading to Paso are left intact allowing the Japanese to speedily advance south across the Hitu Peninsula.

Other landings occur around Hutumori where the Japanese split westward to the town and northward to Paso. The Japanese compel captured Ambonese to act as guides. The Japanese pass through a gap in the south at Batugong that falls on Jan 31st.

2 February 1942:
Rear Admiral Hatakeyama's troops capture Laha airfield on Ambon. Hatakeyama orders the execution of Dutch and Australian POWs a few days later.

3 February 1942:
Ambon is secured.

17 February 1942: The Invasion of Timor Island,
At 0500, AFRICA MARU departs Ambon for Kupang, Dutch Timor in an invasion convoy consisting of YAMAGIRI, RYOYO, MIIKE, ZENYO, KIRISHIMA, HINO, KATSURAGI and YAMAFUKU MARUs escorted by the No. 2 Escort Unit's light cruiser JINTSU, DesDiv 7's USHIO and SAZANAMI, DesDivs 15ís KUROSHIO and HAYASHIO, Des 16ís TOKITSUKAZE and AMATSUKAZE, minesweepers W-7, W-8 and patrol boats PB-1, PB-2 and PB-34. En route the convoy is joined by KUNIKAWA MARU from Kendari, Celebes.

The transports are carrying the 228th Infantry Regiment and men of the Yokosuka No. 3 SNLF.

18 February 1942:
AFRICA MARU departs Ambon for Dili , Portugese Timor in an second invasion convoy consisting of RYOYO, MIIKE, ZENYO and YAMAURA MARUs. The convoy also includes fast transports (converted destroyers) PB-1, PB-2 and PB-34. DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and YAMAKAZE provide close escort with Minesweeper Division 21's W-7 and W-8 and a submarine chaser. CruDiv 5's HAGURO and MYOKO, DesDiv 6's INAZUMA and IKAZUCHI and DesDiv 7's AKEBONO provide distant cover. Air cover is provided by Mitsubishi F1M2 Pete floatplanes from the seaplane carrier MIZUHO.

19 February 1942:
That night, both convoys arrive off Timor. Operating as part of the American-British-Dutch-Australian ABDA FLOAT, the United States Asiatic Fleet's USS PIKE (SS-173) under LtCdr W. New, LtCdr Lewis Wallace's (USNA '25) USS TARPON (SS-175) and LtCdr Barton E. Bacon's (USNA '25) USS PICKEREL (SS-177) make contact with the invasion force.

20 February 1942:
At 0235, landings begin on the east and west coasts of Cape Mali.

Alor island. At 0243, PIKE attacks what LtCdr New misidentifies as two "light cruisers". The ships, in fact, are the small minesweepers W-7 and W-8. LtCdr New fires two torpedoes from 4,000 yards, but they miss ahead. The minesweepers move out of range before he can set up for another attack.

At 0315, the landings are completed with no enemy resistance. The Kupang force then heads over the mountains towards Kupang.

Timor Island. At 1030, 308 paratroops of LtCdr Fukumi Koichi's Yokosuka No. 3 SNLF (Air) are dropped successfully from G3M1-L ďNellĒ transport aircraft in the Dili-Kupang area to capture Penfoei airfield.

21 February 1942:
At 1200, Kupang Town is captured. At 1400, the airfield is captured. At this time, 323 more SNLF paratroops are dropped successfully in the Dili-Kupang area.

3 March 1942:
AFRICA, MIKKE, ZENYO, RYOYO and YAMAMURA MARUs depart Kupang for Kendari escorted by minesweepers W-7 and W-8.

25 March 1942:
At 1720, AFRICA MARU departs Takao, Formosa for Lingayen, Philippines with KITANO MARU unescorted.

27 March 1942:
Five miles S of Damortis, Philippines. At 1720, KITANO MARU, headed for the San Tomas anchorage, strikes a mine, grounds and sinks at 16-11N, 120-19E. She was carrying 650 military personnel, mostly from the IJA 54th Infantry Division. Three soldiers are KIA.

9 October 1942:
AFRICA MARU departs Saigon via Formosa for Moji and Yokohama in an unescorted convoy also consisting of cargo ships LONDON and HAWAII MARUs.

AFRICA MARU is carrying a cargo of rice and corn, 112 crewmen and 38 passengers including survivors of cargo ship TEIBO MARU (4,472/1924) torpedoed and sunk on 25 Sep í42 by USS SARGO (SS-188).

20 October 1942:
Formosa Strait, off Kirun (Keelung). At about 1400 (H), LtCdr Jesse L. HullĎs (USNA í26) USS FINBACK (SS-230) sights the smoke of AFRICA MARU and her two consorts leaving port at Kirun at a range of about seven miles heading due west at 10 knots. Hullís crew identifies all three ships as similar to LYONS MARU. FINBACK surfaces as soon as it is dark and Hull begins a chase.

N of Formosa. FINBACK submerges and at about 2340 (H), Hull fires four unreliable BuOrd Mark-14 steam torpedoes at the convoy. They all either run deep or erratic and miss or fail to detonate. At 2359, FINBACK fires two more torpedoes and one hits AFRICA MARU portside and explodes near her No. 4 and No. 5 holds. She responds with three wild shots from an IJA field gun through an embrasure, but is hit by a second torpedo portside in No. 2 hold.

21 October 1942:
AFRICA MARU takes on a list to port and, about 0011, sinks by the stern at 24-26N, 120-26E. Three crewmen are KIA.


Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and Allan Alsleben of Oregon.

-Bob Hackett


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