BORNEO MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 2

5 July 1917:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Shipbuilding as a 5,863-ton passenger-cargo ship.

28 October 1917:
Launched and named DAIFUKU MARU No. 14.

24 November 1917:

25 November 1917:
Purchased by the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line and renamed BORNEO MARU .

Serves on OSK’s North American route from Kobe to Tacoma, Washington, New York and Gulf of Mexico ports. Also serves on OSK’s route to Indian Ocean ports.

19 May 1919:
BORNEO MARU arrives at Ellis Island, New York.

16 July 1923:
BORNEO MARU arrives at Singapore en route to Calcutta, India from Japan.

4 October 1941:
BORNEO MARU is requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 520.

July–September 1941:
Hunan province, South Central China. Seasonal Yangtze River flood waters flow into Dongting Lake. BORNEO MARU takes advantage of the flooding to transport IJA troops down the Yangtze to Yueyang on Dongting Lake's southern shore.

November 1941:
Arrives at Samah (now Ya Xian), Hainan Island, China.

December 1941:
Departs Samah.

December 1941:
Arrives at Camrahn Bay, Indochina.

13 December 1941: Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, 39 invasion transports including BORNEO MARU depart Camranh in the No. 2 Malaya Invasion Convoy escorted by light cruiser KASHII, DesRon 3’s light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 4’s ARASHI, HAGIKAZE, MAIKAZE, NAKASUGI and NOWAKE, DesDiv 19's AYANAMI, ISONAMI, SHIKINAMI and URANAMI, DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and ISONAMI, kaibokan SHIMUSHSHU and minesweeper W-4. The convoy carries 2,500 men of the IJA 25th Army’s 5th Infantry Division, 5th Tank and 41st Regiments.

SeaplanTenDiv 12’s KAMIKAWA and SANYO MARUs provide air cover. BORNEO MARU's armament consists of a wooden gun mounted on her forecastle.

16 December 1941:
Gulf of Siam (Thailand). At 2300, BORNEO, YURI and TAMAHOKO MARUs escorted by SHIMUSHSHU arrive off Nakhorn, Siam and land troops.

17 December 1941:
At 0600, BORNEO, YURI and TAMAHOKO MARUs covered by KASHII arrive off Bandon, Siam and land troops. Later, BORNEO MARU is fitted with two artillery cannons and three anti-aircraft guns.

29 January 1942:
W Borneo, NEI. BORNEO MARU steams up the Pontianak river to the Dutch Naval Air Station at Pontianak where Naval Air Group GVT-1 is based with three Dornier Do-24K flying boats. BORNEO MARU lands troops near Pontianak town which they quickly overrun and occupy.

March 1942:
BORNEO MARU departs Borneo carrying MajGen Kawaguchi Kiyotake's 9th Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division.

1 April 1942:
Arrives at Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands.

5 April 1942:
BORNEO MARU departs Lingayen for Cebu, Philippines in an invasion convoy with INDIA, NAGANO, TAIRYU, MEXICO, TOTTORI, RISSHUN and RYUUN MARUs escorted by light cruiser KUMA, DesDiv2 (less 2 destroyers) HARUSAME, MURASAME, SAMIDARE and YUDACHI , torpedo boat KIJI, gun boat BUSHO MARU and auxiliary subchasers KIYO MARU No. 12 and KIYO MARU No. 13. The convoy carries 4,852 men of the Kawaguchi Detachment's consisting of 35th Infantry Brigade HQ, 124th Infantry Regiment, 1 platoon of the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, 4th Company, 22nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Company, e 21st Field Heavy Artillery Battalion, the main force of the 44th Anchorage HQ, 1 platoon of the 23rd Independent Engineer Regiment [type “E”], 1 company (less 2 platoons) of the 26th Independent Engineer Regiment [type “D”] and part of the Logistics Units. BORNEO MARU carries Major Yamada, commander, 1st Battalion.

10 April 1942:
The convoy arrives at Cebu. BORNEO MARU and NAGANO MARUs land toops on the east coast (Argao) of Cebu Island. with unknown landing craft. The two transports land the 124th Infantry Regiment HQ, 1st Battalion, the 124th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion (minus 7th Co), the 124th Infantry Regiment, Rapid-fire Gun Company (lessus 1 platoon), the main force of Regiment Signal Unit, 1 platoon of the brigade radio signal unit, 1 armored car platoon of the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, 4th Company, the 22nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1 platoon of the 14th Army Road Construction Unit, part of the 14th Army Propaganda Section, 2nd Company, 21st Field Heavy Artillery Battalion and a temporarily formed anti-air machine cannon unit.

Meanwhile, INDIA, TAIRYU, MEXICO, TOTTORI and RISSHUN MARU begin to land troops at Cebu City. Seaplane tender SANUKI MARU covers the landings.

12 April 1942:
SANUKI MARU launches four F1M2s “Pete” float fighters to bomb the USAAF airfield at Del Monte. A P-35A "Guardsman", orbiting the air field, engages the Petes, while two P-40Es take off to intercept them. An F1M2 is shot down by one of the P-40s, but the other three F1M2s bomb the airfield. They wreck a B-17E and damage two others. At 1815, SANUKI MARU enters Cebu Port.

11 April 1942:
Ten 3rd Bomb Group B-25-C “Mitchell” medium bombers fitted with long distance tanks and three B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers of the 19th Bomb Group, all under the command of BrigGen (later MajGen) Ralph G. Royce, take off from Charters Towers Airfield, Townsville, Queensland, Australia via Darwin for the 1,500-mile flight to Del Monte, Mindanao.

12 April 1942:
All the planes arrive safely at Del Monte where the tanks are removed and replaced by bombs. The B-25s are then dispersed to concealed P-40 “Warhawk” fighter airstrips at Valencia and Maramag.

13 April 1942:
Just after midnight, ten B-25s take off and bomb shipping at Cebu Island. Royce’s B-25s fly more than 20 sorties against shipping and harbor facilities at Cebu. Two of the B-17's carry out single-bomber strikes from Mindanao against Cebu harbor.

During the air raids, BORNEO MARU is strafed and suffers bridge and hull damage. Two seamen are KIA. Damage to other shipping in the harbor is probable, but unknown.

26 April 1942:
The invasion convoy departs Cebu for Mindanao, Philippines including landing Support Units, the main force of the 44th Anchorage HQ, 1 platoon of the 23rd Independent Engineer Regiment [type “E”], 1 company (less 2 platoons) of the 26th Independent Engineer Regiment [type “D”] escorted by l DesDiv2 (less 2 destroyers) MURASAME and SAMIDARE,

29 April 1942:
Moro Gulf. The convoy arrives at Cotabato, Mindanao and with 4 Daihatsus, 2 boats with engines lands part of the Detachment including the 3rd Battalion HQ, 3rd Battalion (lesss 11th and 12th Companies, 1/4 IIIMG), 2 platoons of the brigade signal unit, part of the 67th Line-of-communications Hospital, the main force of the Detachment Landing at Parang with 8 Daihatsus and 6 Shohatsus, 124th Infantry Regiment HQ, 1st Battalion, the 124th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion (minus 12th Co), the 124th Infantry Regiment, 1 armored car platoon of the 16th Reconnaissance Regiment, 1 platoon of the 14th Army Road Construction Unit, 4th Company, 22nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Company, the 21st Field Heavy Artillery Battalion and a temporarily formed anti-air machine cannon unit.

9 May 1942:
Mindanao is secured.

May 1942:
Departs Mindanao. Arrives at Ujina (Hiroshima). Undergoes repairs to superstructure and her hull.

E June 1942:
Attached to the IJA 5th Fleet in support of the capture of Kiska Island, Aleutians (Operation AOB).

6 October 1942:
Departs Otaru, Hokkaido for Kiska.

13 October 1942:
NE of Attu Island, Aleutians. At 0635, USAAF 11th Air Force aircraft made contact at 53-40N 174-15E. At 1110, three B-24 “Liberator” heavy bombers attack. They are driven off, but many bombs are dropped and BORNEO MARU is damaged slightly.

14 October 1942:
At 1355, arrives at Kiska. At 1410, anchors off the Western Beach. Unloading operations begin immediately and continue all night.

15 October 1942:
At 0900, a formation of 20 various types of USAAF aircraft overflies anchored BORNEO MARU, then attacks. Bombs fall near both sides of hold No. 3, smash the outer hull and crack the ship open in two places. During the air attack, two soldiers and five crewmen are KIA. At 1030, BORNEO MARU weighs anchor and requests that two Daihatsus tow her. Soon after, Captain Wada Noguchi runs his ship aground.

16 October 1942:
BORNEO MARU is abandoned, but unloading continues. Her crew salavges iron plates and hatch covers from the ship and constuct a bunker on shore in which to take cover as American planes continue to pepper the area around the ship with bombs, torpedoes and machine-gun fire on a daily basis.

21 October 1942:
USAAF aircraft set BORNEO MARU on fire with incendiary bombs. A Martin B-26 “Marauder” medium bomber is shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashes in flames on the hatch of No. 4 hold. Gasoline is released that instantly ignites. Two more soldiers and two crewmen are KIA in this attack. [3]

Gertrude Cove, Kiska. The wreck remains afloat until sometime postwar, then sinks.

Gertrude Cove, Kiska. Divers investigate BORNEO MARU’s underwater wreck and find the hull forward of the superstructure disintegrated and the hulk collapsing.

Author’s Notes:
[1] The B-25s originally were ordered and bought in the United States by the Netherlands Purchasing Commity. The Netherlands East Indies Air Force was short of qualified crews, so the Dutch handed over the first 12 B-25s to the USAAF 3rd Bomb Group.

[2] The B-17s were not dispersed and the one left behind for repairs was damaged by an air attack on Del Monte. After the other two B-17s returned from the mission, they were also caught in the open on the ground and damaged, while the first bomber was destroyed. They then returned safely to Australia with evacuees, including U.S. Navy Lt (later Vice Admiral/MOH) John D. Bulkeley, CO of motor torpedo boat PT-41 that evacuated Gen Douglas MaArthur from Corrigidor to Mindanao.

[3] Japanese sources conflict and give varying dates for the attacks and events during 13-21 Oct '42.

Thanks go to Mr. Iwasaki Yutaka and Fontessa of Japan and Alan Alsleben of Oregon. Thanks also go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports