RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

BENGAL MARU, prewar)

BENGAL MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012 Bob Hackett


25 May 1920:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho Shipyard as a 5,396-ton cargo ship.

1920:
Sold to the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line of Tokyo.

15 November 1920:
Launched and named BENGAL MARU.

27 October 1921:
Completed and placed in NYK’s service.

2 April 1923:
BENGAL MARU arrives at Singapore from ports of call in China and Japan.

23 July 1923:
Arrives at Singapore from Japan en route to Calcutta, India via Penang Island, Malaya (Malaysia) and Rangoon, Burma. (Yangon, Myanmar).

24 February 1924:
Arrives at Singapore from ports of call in China and Japan.

5 July 1932:
Arrives at Singapore from ports of call in China and Japan.

6 July 1933:
Arrives at Singapore from Yokohama.

7 July 1933:
Departs Singapore for Columbo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

7 April 1934:
Arrives at Singapore from ports of call in China and Japan.

1 December 1935:
BENGAL MARU departs Singapore for Hong Kong, Moji, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama.

22 March 1936:
NYK inaugurates regular direct Japan ~ Australia service with BENGAL, CALCUTTA and MURORAN MARUs with ports of call at Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

E October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA).

8 December 1941:
The Pacific War Begins.

17 December 1941: Operation "M" (M Sakusen) -The Invasion of Lamon Bay, S Luzon, Philippines:
At 1500, BENGAL MARU departs Koniya, Amami Oshima, Ryukuyus for Lamon Bay in an Invasion Force also consisting of IJA transports LISBON, DAINICHI, DURBAN, KAIMEI, KAYO, KITANO, KOFUKU, LISBON, NAGATO, NICHIREN, RYOKA, RYUYO, SHINSEI, SHINSHU (4182 GRT), TAIAN, TATSUNO, TOFUKU, TOYAMA and TOYOHASHI MARUs and TAMON MARU No. 5.

The Army force consists of Gen (later Field Marshal) Count Terauchi Hisachi’s Southern Expeditionary Army. Its 14th Army, under LtGen Homma Masaharu, fields MajGen Morioka Susumu's Invasion Unit of about 7,000 troops consisting of elements of the 16th Infantry Division: 20th Infantry Regiment, 22nd Field Artillery Regiment, HQ and II Battalion, 16 HQ Company, 16th Engineer Battalion, 16th Recon Battalion, 3/45 AA Company, 16th Transport, 16th Signal Company, 16th Medical Unit and 16th Veterinary Unit. Two AA and one Signals regiments are stationed on transports.

The naval force consists of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35)(former CO of KONGO) Southern Force, Philippines Invasion Group that includes Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (35)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet.

Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji’s (38) (former CO of KAGA) Invasion Unit consists of his 1st Base Force HQ, in light cruiser NAGARA, 1st Quartermaster Ports and Docks Unit and 1st Naval Signal Unit, aboard HAKUSAN MARU, 1st Naval Guard Unit, aboard KIMISHIMA MARU, 1st Naval Survey Unit in SENKO MARU and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunizo's (40)(former CO of SATA) Sasebo No. 1 and 2 Combined Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) aboard MYOKO MARU.

The convoy’s escort consists of light cruiser NAGARA (F), heavy cruiser ASHIGARA, destroyers TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE, KAWAKAZE, SUSUKAZE, UMIKAZE, YAMAKAZE, minelayer AOTAKA, minesweepers W-7 and W-8, auxiliary gunboat/minelayer IKUSHIMA MARU, auxiliary gunboats BUSHO, KEIKO, KANKO and MYOKEN MARUs, auxiliary subchasers SHONAN MARU No. 17 and TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 and auxiliary netlayer FUKUEI MARU No. 15.

24 December 1941:
At 0200, the Invasion Force arrives at Lamon Bay. The landings proceed without strong opposition.

14 January 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Saeki in the "Hinoe No. 3 Go" convoy also consisting of RYUYO, ENGLAND, DAINICHI, SHONAN, NAGATO, ZUISHO and TOFUKU MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO, minelayer YURIJIMA and subchaser CH-37.

E 15 January 1943:
YURIJIMA and CH-37 are detached at 29N.

24 March 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Palau for Rabaul, New Britain in a convoy also consisting of ATLAS, HAMBURG, KIZAN and TOYAMA MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 3 with an unknown escort.

2 April 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

1 May 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Palau in convoy No. 3206 also consisting of ADEN, MIYADONO, TOYAMA, KIZAN and ASO MARUs escorted by destroyer ASAGAO.

6 May 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

5 June 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Palau for Wewak, New Guinea troop convoy “Wewak No. 5” also consisting of HAKKA and MAYA MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 3 escorted by destroyers AMATSUKAZE and URAKAZE. The convoy carries units of the IJA 41st Division. During return voyage, the convoy is joined by auxiliary gunboat KAZAN MARU.

15 June 1943:
Arrives back at Palau.

5 July 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Palau for Wewak in convoy "Wewak No. 6" also consisting of MAYA and TOHO MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 3 and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 escorted by destroyers AMATSUKAZE and URAKAZE and minelayer SHIRATAKA. The convoy carries units of the IJA 41st Division. On the return voyage, URAKAZE tows disabled TOHO MARU back to Palau.

17 July 1943:
Arrives back at Palau.

2 August 1943:
At 1300, BENGAL MARU departs Palau in convoy "Hansa No. 6" also consisting of DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) and MAYA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and YOSHIDA MARU No. 3 escorted by minelayer SHIRATAKA and subchaser CH-34.

8 August 1943:
At 0800, arrives at Hansa Bay, New Guinea.

14 August 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Palau.

24 September 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Palau for Wewak in convoy "Wewak No. 10" also consisting of MAYA and YAMAGATA MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO, minelayer SHIRATAKA and subchaser CH-34. En route, the escorts are relieved by subchasers CH-26 and CH-32.

28 September 1943:
Arrives at Wewak, New Guinea.

29 September 1943:
Departs Wewak.

4 October 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

23 November 1943:
BENGAL MARU departs Woosung harbor, near Shanghai, in a convoy also consisting of KENWA and MITSUKI MARUs and several unidentified ships with an unknown escort. The convoy carries the main strength of the IJA 36th Division.

27 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

29 November 1943:
Departs Takao.

4 December 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

10 December 1943:
Before dawn, departs Manila.

12 December 1943:
Before dawn, arrivea at Cebu, Philippines.

15 December 1943:
Departs Cebu.

19 December 1943:
Arrives at Kau, Halmahera, Moluccas.

1 February 1944:
BENGAL MARU departs Manila, probably for Balikpapan, Borneo and Surabaya, Java, in convoy No. 3105 also consisting of KOKUEI, KANKO and SHUNSEN MARUs and tankers HOKUAN and SAN LUIS MARUs with an unknown escort.

4 February 1944:
SAN LUIS MARU is detached for Miri, Borneo.

20 March 1944:
At 0630, BENGAL MARU departs Manila for Kau, Halmaheras in convoy H-22 also consisting of ANSHU, ATLAS, KUNIKAWA, KURAMASAN, MITO, SHINKYO and TOYOOKA MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HAYABUSA and minesweeper W-30. BENGAL MARU is carrying 262 soldiers, 150 Formosans attached to a military labor unit, 54 other passengers and 54 crewmen.

23 March 1944:
Zamboanga Sea. At about 1530, auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 12 joins the escort. W-30 is detached.

24 March 1944:
At 1430, KUNIKAWA MARU is detached and proceeds independently to Balikpapan Bay, Borneo arriving later that day.

About 28 nms E of Cape Chinaka, SE Mindanao, Philippines. LtCdr (later Cdr) Walter T. Griffith’s (USNA '34) USS BOWFIN (SS-287) makes radar contact with the convoy. At 2348, Griffith’s first salvo scores two hits on BENGAL MARU at 05-38N, 125-58E. BENGAL MARU sinks rapidly at 05-37N, 125-58E. 161 passengers, four gunners and 41 crewmen are KIA.


Authors’ Notes:
No data were found detailing BENGAL MARU's movements in 1942. Readers with access to such data are requested to post the information on the Discussion and Questions board or j-aircraft.org's IJN Ship Message Board

Thanks go to Alan Alsleben of Oregon, John Whitman of Virginia, Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and Gilbert Casse of France.

Bob Hackett


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