(Sister TAMAHOKO MARU, prewar)

IJA Transport CHOKO (ex-SEINU) MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2016 Bob Hackett

25 March 1920:
Aioi. Laid down at Harima Shipbuilding as Yard No. 44, a 6,784-ton passenger-cargo ship for Teikoku Kisen Kaisha, K. K., Kobe.

12 July 1920:
Launched and named SEINU (SEINE) MARU.

23 August 1920:

July 1924:
Sold to Dai Nippon (Wakayama Esumi).

21 February 1928:
Sold to Yamashita Kisen Kaisha, K. K., Kobe. K. K. and renamed CHOKO MARU. [1]

CHOKO MARU calls on Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

10 August 1937:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and alloted Army No.928.

10 May 1941:
Released back to her owners.

29 October 1941:
Re-requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). Converted to a troop transport.

17 February 1942:
At night, transports SAGAMI and SASAGO MARUs carrying part of the IJA's 48th Infantry Division depart Makassar, Celebes (now Sulawasei) for Bali, Java (now Indonesia) escorted by DesDiv 8's ASASHIO, OSHIO, ARASHIO and MICHISHIO.

19 February 1942: The Invasion of Eastern Java:
Jolo, Philippines. At 0800, the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy (Toho Koryaku Butai) consisting of 39 troop transports departs the anchorage carrying the IJA’s 48th Infantry Division in seven sections:
1st Section consisting of: HAGUE, YAMAGIKU, KENKON, NANKO, ADEN and KONAN MARUs,
2nd Section consisting of: HOLLAND, JOHORE, TAKAOKA, HOKKO, KYOKUSEI and TAEI MARUs,
3rd Section consisting of: KENZAN, HIMALAYA, HAVRE, ARIZONA, ANZAN and CHOKO MARUs (6783/20),
4th Section consisting of: NISSHU, BIYO, ITALY, ASAKA, KASHU and YONEYAMA MARUs,
6th Section consisting of: MIYADONO, JINZAN (JINSAN), WALES, SUEZ, TAMON and YASUKAWA MARUs, and the
7th Section consisting of: SATSUMA, MINRYU and HOZUGAWA MARUs.

The convoy is escorted by Rear Admiral Nishimura's heavy cruisers NACHI and HAGURO, DesRon 2's light cruisers NAKA and JINTSU and DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE and DesRon 4's light cruiser NAKA, DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MURASAME, MINEGUMO and NATSUGUMO.

E 21 February 1942:
Makassar Strait. SAGAMI and SASAKO MARUs join the main convoy and steam with it.

22 February 1942:
At 1200, EHIME and LIVERPOOL MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy north of Aru Bank. The same day, HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs depart Palau carrying elements of the Sakaguchi Detachment.

23 February 1942:
HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy.

27 February 1942: The Battle of the Java Sea:
At 1547, HAGURO and NACHI, DesRon 2's JINTSU with DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE engage Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman's Strike Force's light cruiser Hr.Ms. DE RUYTER (F), heavy cruisers HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH and Hr.Ms. JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER, Hr.Ms. KORTENAER and WITTE de WITH and old destroyers USS ALDEN (DD-211), JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230).

During this day and the next day’s engagements, Doorman's Strike Force loses HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH, HrMs DE RUYTER, Hr.Ms. JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER and Hr.Ms. KORTENAER to superior Japanese forces. The Allies also lose old four stack USS POPE (DD-225).

1 March 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
At 0120, 100 miles W of Surabaya, Java. The Eastern Java Invasion Force now consisting of 43 transports including HAGUE MARU enters the roadstead off Kragan village, East Java.

Just before dropping anchor, the ships suffer a fierce air attack. JOHORE MARU is hit and suffers many KIA and WIA. TOKUSHIMA MARU is also hit and has to be beached at 0200. Despite the air attacks, at 0015, the convoy lands the 48th Infantry Division at Kragan village, East Java. Their main objectives are the Surabaya Naval Base on the eastern coast and Tjilatjap harbor on the southern coast.

8 September 1942:
CHOKO MARU departs Sasebo and joins convoy No. 160 out of Moji also consisting of IJA transports BOKO (ex British SAGRES), KISO, NAGARA, NIKKYU, TOKYO, and YURI MARUs and auxiliary oiler KUROSHIO MARU and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyers WAKATAKE and SANAE. Soon after departing Mutsure the convoy splits into two parts. TOKYO MARU joins the faster first part as well as NAGARA and KUROSHIO MARUs.

CHOKO MARU is detached at an unknown date and later arrives at Shanghai.

12 October 1942:
At 0307, CHOKO MARU departs Shortland escorted by minesweeper W-22.

14 October 1942:
At 1515, arrives at Kavieng.

21 October 1942:
CHOKO MARU departs Rabaul for Palau in an unidentifed convoy also consisting of TAIJIMA MARU and three unidentied cargo ships escorted by two unknown destroyers. About 1745, 110 miles WNW of Rabaul, LtCdr W.B. Stovall, Jr’s USS GUDGEON (SS-211) torpedoes and sinks CHOKO MARU at 03-30S, 150-30E. Five crew at KIA. [2]

Author's Notes:
[1] Not to be confused with ships of the same name like Taiyo Kogyo’s 3,515-ton cargo ship, 889-ton auxiliary net-layer, 1794-ton auxiliary stores ship 921-ton transport (ex-British HSIN YANGTSE) and Taiyo Gyogyo’s 842-ton cargo ship.

[2] GUDGEON also torpedoes but misses TAIJIMA MARU in the same encounter.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports