(ARGUN MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett

E 1919:
Sakurajima. Laid down at Osaka Iron Works as a 6,609-ton cargo ship for stock.

21 July 1920:

15 September 1920:
Completed and sold to the Osaka Shosen K. K. (OSK) Line, Osaka. Named ARGUN MARU. She can accommodate two first class and 10 third class passengers and carries a crew of 60. Placed on OSK’s European route.

17 July 1922:
Arrives at Singapore.

18 July 1922:
Departs Singapore for Marseilles, France, London, England, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Hamburg, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium.

Transferred to OSK’s India and Persian Gulf routes.

Transferred to OSK’s Japan ~ New York route.

7 July 1937: The "First China Incident" and the Beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War:
Hun River, Lukuokiao, China. Japanese troops on night maneuvers at the Marco Polo Bridge fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops across the river think they are under attack. They fire live rounds back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese have captured him. The Japanese demand entry to the Peiping (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

E 1937: Second Sino-Japanese War:
Chartered to the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) to transport troops to China.

Released back to her owners. Returns to OSK’s civilian use.

18 January 1938:
Departs Singapore via Takao, Formosa for Moji, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama.

11 March 1938:
Departs Singapore for Calcutta, India via Belawan and Deli, Sumatra and Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar).

6 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army and converted to a troop transport. Allotted Army No. 534.

17 December 1941: Operation "M" (M Sakusen) -The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
At 0900, ARGUN MARU departs Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan) for Lingayen Gulf, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Rear Admiral Hirose Sueto (39)(former CO of HARUNA) 3rd Lingayen Invasion Unit with 21 other IJA transports escorted by DesDiv 9's YAMAGUMO, minelayer WAKATAKA and four smaller warships.

The Japanese main invasion at Lingayen Gulf consists of three transport echelons. The first is composed of 27 transports from Takao under Rear Admiral Hara Kensaburo, the second of 28 transports under Rear Admiral Nishimura and the third under Rear Admiral Hirose. This force of 76 transports carries the main part of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army.

24 December 1941:
Between 0110 and 0430, the transports land their troops at Lingayen.

9 February 1942: Operation "L" - The Invasion of Palembang:
ARGUN MARU departs Camranh Bay for Palembang in the Bangka-Palembang, Sumatra invasion invasion convoy consisting of BUYO, GINYO, HIROKAWA, INABASAN, KENZUI, LIMA, MACASSAR, MEIGEN, RAKUYO, SHINSEI, SINGAPORE (later SHONAN) and TSUSHIMA MARUs and supply ship NOJIMA escorted by light (training ) cruiser KASHII (F), DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, and YUGIRI, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA, minesweeper W-6 and subchaser CH-9.

14 February 1942:
Six Bristol "Blenheim" light bombers of Royal Air Force No. 211 Squadron attack the convoy and sink transport INABASAN MARU and damage several others.

16 February 1942:
Near Palembang, Sumatra. The invasion transports land elements of the IJA 16th Army’s 229th Infantry Regiment and a battalion of the 230th Infantry Regiment, five batteries of the 38th Mountain Artillery Battalion and one company each of the 38th Transport and 38th Engineer Regiments.

27 February 1942:
ARGUN MARU and the transport convoy depart Palembang for Singapore.

3 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

27 July 1942:
Released back to her owners. Returns to civilian use (C-AK).

5 October 1942:
ARGUN MARU is attacked by unknown submarine (possibly USS GROUPER) at 32-09N, 128-43E. Sasebo Naval Base dispatches minelayers KAMOME, HIRASHIMA and minesweeper W-1 to find and attack the submarine.

3 May 1943:
ARGUN MARU departs St. Jacques escorting convoy No. 492 also consisting of KYOKKO and SEINAN MARUs and six unidentified merchants escorted by subchaser CH-9.

9 May 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

10 July 1943:
At 1153, ARGUN MARU departs Saigon and later that day departs St Jacques in convoy No. 409 consisting of ARGUN, FUKUYO, HITORA (ex-Panamanian RAMONA), KOZUI, NORFOLK, NORWAY and TATSUNO MARUs and four unidentified merchants escorted by subchaser CH-9.

16 July 1943:
The convoy arrives at Takao.

20 July 1943:
At 0800, ARGUN MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 284 also consisting of IJA transports KISHU and NORFOLK MARUs, IJN transports HIROTA and SHOUN MARUs, IJN tanker MATSUMOTO MARU, IJA tanker NANEI MARU, IJA storeship BIYO MARU and two unidentified merchants escorted by destroyer SANAE.

25 July 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

20 September 1943:
At 1800, ARGUN MARU departs Mako for Moji in convoy RINJI-B (Special-B) also consisting of freighters GYOKU, HOKUYO, KIYO, MANTAI and TAKETSU (BUTSU) MARUs and oilers SHOYO MARU and OGURA MARU No. 1 escorted by fleet oiler SHIRIYA and kaibokan WAKAMIYA. [1]

21 September 1943:
East China Sea. NE of Keelung, Formosa. LtCdr (later Captain) Robert E. Dornin's (USNA ’35) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) is patrolling submerged 30 miles N of the Hoka Sho light. At 2058, Dornin makes a visual surface attack. At 1500 yards, he fires three torpedoes at the lead oiler and three at the second ship. One hits lead ship SHIRIYA carrying aviation gasoline. She explodes and sinks at 26-27N, 122-40E.

The second ship, freighter ARGUN MARU is hit by a torpedo amidships, breaks in half and sinks immediately with two crewmen KIA and the loss of 8,295-tons of rice.

LtCdr Dornin brings TRIGGER about. He fires three stern tubes at OGURA MARU No. 1, but misses. Dornin crash-dives to escape gun fire from a third oiler. He comes to periscope depth and fires two bow torpedoes at SHOYO MARU that hit her to starboard and send her down by the bow. SHOYO MARU sinks at 26-33N, 123-10E. Five crewmen are KIA.

Dornin makes two more attacks on a freighter, but all of his Mark 14 torpedoes either miss or are duds, but GYOKU MARU is damaged in the attacks. The remainder of the convoy arrives at Moji. USS TRIGGER returns safely to Midway Island.

Author's Note:
[1] Tanker TAKETSU MARU is shown as this convoy as indicated in Komamiya Shinshichiro's “Senji Yuso Sendan Shi”. Research by Peter Cundall and others suggests TAKETSU MARU may not have been in the convoy and further that HOKUYO MARU and OGURA MARU No. 2 were convoy members.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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