(DAIFUKU MARU No. 1, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

©-2017 Bob Hackett

Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd. as Yard No. 391, a 5,869-ton cargo ship.

12 September 1916:
Launched and named DAIFUKU MARU. [1]

During construction, DAIFUKU MARU No. 1 is renamed ARGONNE.

28 December 1916:

Sold to States Marine & Commercial Co. of the USA under an iron exchange agreement.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge Incident ("First China Incident"):
Hun River, Lukuokiao, China. Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 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.

30 July 1937:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 25.

15 January 1939:
Released back to her owners.

E October 1941:
Re-requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). [2]

4 December 1941:
At 0900, DAIFUKU MARU departs Haha-jim, Bonin Islands in Rear Admiral Kasuga Atsushi's (37)(former CO of CHOKAI) 5th Base Force's Invasion Force also consisting of transports CLYDE, CHERIBON, CHINA, KOGYOKU, MATSUE, MOJI, NICHIMEI, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs.

The Invasion Force is covered by minelayer TSUGARU (F), GunbtDiv 7, SubChasDivs 59 and 60 and MineDiv 15 and auxiliary seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU. Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo’s (38)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) CruDiv 6’s AOBA (F), KINUGASA, KAKO and FURUTAKA provides gunnery support.

8 December 1941:
The Pacific War begins.

8 December 1941: Operation "G" (G Sakusen) - The Seizure of Guam:
At 0100, the transports begin landing MajGen Horii Tomitaro’s 55th Infantry Corps 55th Division’s Headquarters, 3d Company, 55th Cavalry, 55th Division plus an anti-tank platoon, 144th Infantry Regiment of 2,673 men, 144th Infantry Artillery Unit, 1st Battalion, 55th Mountain Artillery Regiment with twelve 75mm mountain guns, 1st Company, 55th Engineer Regiment’s 3rd Company (less one platoon) and 10th Independent Engineer Regiment.

The Invasion Force also lands naval units of the 5th Defense Unit Detachment 15th Naval Base Headquarters and 15th Communications Unit. Japanese troops quickly overrun Guam's few United States Marine Corps defenders.

9 December 1941:
VENICE MARU departs Saipan, Mariana Islands for Guam, Marianas in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kasuga Atushi‘s (37) (former CO of CHOKAI) Invasion Fleet also consisting of transports DAIFUKU, CHERIBON, CHINA, KOGYOKU, NICHIMI, MATSUE and YOKOHAMA MARUs and oiler MOJI MARU escorted by DesDiv 23’s KIKUZUKI (F), YUZUKI, UZUKI and DesDiv 7’s OBORO, seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU, MineDiv 19’s minelayer TSUGARU and two auxiliary gunboats and six auxiliary subchasers.

Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo’s (38)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) CruDiv 6’s AOBA (F), KINUGASA, KAKO and FURUTAKA provides gunnery support.

10 December 1941:
At 0400, the Japanese land about 400 troops at Dungcas Beach, N of Agana. MajGen Horii Tomitaro’s IJA South Seas Detachment of about 5,500 men also lands at Tumon Bay and at Talafofo Bay. At 0600, after token resistance by USMC and local constabulary, the United States Governor officially surrenders Guam.

14 January 1942:
At 1330, DAIFUKU MARU departs Apra Harbor, Guam for Rabaul, New Britain in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide's (former CO of OI) Invasion Fleet also consisting of CHERIBON, CHINA, CLYDE, HIBI, MOJI, MITO, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs carrying 5,300 men.

17 January 1942:
Near Lamotrek Island. Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39)(former CO of KISO) light cruiser YUBARI, seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU and four destroyers join MineDiv 19’s minelayers OKINOSHIMA and TSUGARU and two destroyers escorting the Invasion Fleet

That same day, Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi’s (36) (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Carrier Striking Force departs Truk consisting of CarDiv 1’s AKAGI and KAGA, CruDiv 5’s SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, BatDiv 3/1 HIEI and KIRISHIMA, CruDiv 8’s TONE and CHIKUMA and DesRon 1’s light cruiser ABUKUMA with DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 18's ARARE, KASUMI, KAGERO, SHIRANUHI and unattached AKIGUMO.

20 January 1942: - Operation "R" (R Sakusen) - The Invasions of Rabaul and Kavieng:
N of New Ireland. CarDiv 1 and CarDiv 5 launch 100 bombers and fighters to attack Rabaul, New Britain and Kavieng, New Ireland. KAGA loses one dive-bomber. That evening, CarDiv 5 is detached with cruiser CHIKUMA and destroyers AKIGUMO, KASUMI, KAGERO and SHIRANUHI and moves to a position in the Bismarck Sea.

21 January 1942:
CarDiv 1 launches another strike on Rabaul. CarDiv 5 launches separate raids on at Lae, Salamaua, Bulolo and Madang, New Guinea. After CarDiv 5 recovers her aircraft, she departs the Bismarck Sea area that evening to rendevous with CarDiv 1.

22 January 1942:
CarDiv 1 launches a 45-plane strike against Rabaul. After the launch, CarDiv 5 rendevouses with CarDiv 1. When CarDiv 1 completes recovery of her strike aircraft, Nagumo departs the New Ireland area and heads north to Truk.

22/23 January 1942:
New Britain. Soon after midnight, OKINOSHIMA lands invasion troops at Blanche Bay, Rabaul. Under the concealment of bad weather, the landings are carried out smoothly. The first group to land is Lt Col Tsukamoto Hatsuo's 144th Infantry Regiment which quickly takes control of Lakunai airdrome. Three companies of Lt Col Kuwada Ishiro's 3rd Battalion, after over running some Australian opposition, secure Vunakanau airdrome. Other invasion forces swiftly overcome light Australian opposition and occupy both Rabaul and Kavieng.

23 January 1942:
DAIFUKU MARU departs Truk for Rabaul in an invasion fleet consisting of CHERIBON, CHINA, CLYDE, HIBI, MITO, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs and oiler MOJI MARU with escorted by auxiliary netlayer SHUKO MARU and auxiliary subchasers KYO MARU No. 8 and KYO MARU No. 10.

25 January 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

4 May 1942: Operation “MO” – The Invasions of Tulagi and Port Moresby:
At 1600, Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39) (former CO of KISO) Port Moresby Attack Force departs Rabaul towards the Jomard Pass in the Louisiade Archipelago with DesRon 6’s light cruiser YUBARI, DesDiv 29’s OITE, ASANAGI, DesDiv 30’s MUTSUKI, MOCHIZUKI and YAYOI escorting Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Abe Koso's (40) (former CO of HIEI) Transport Force of IJN transports GOYO, MOGAMIGAWA, SHOKA, AKIBASAN and CHOWA MARUs and IJA transports DAIFUKU, HIBI, MATSUE, MITO and CHINA MARUs, tanker HOYO MARU, fleet oiler IRO (at anchor at Shortland area with destroyer UZUKI), minelayer TSUGARU, minesweeper W-20, auxiliary minesweepers HAGOROMO MARU, NOSHIRO MARU No. 2 and FUMI MARU No. 2 and fleet salvage and repair tug OJIMA (OSHIMA). The convoy’s speed only is 6.5 knots.

IJA transport ASAKASAN MARU is delayed at Rabaul. The Transport Force is carrying the bulk of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), the 10th Naval Construction Unit and the South Seas Detachment consisting of the 144th Infantry Regiment.

The Transport Force is carrying the bulk of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), the 10th Naval Construction Unit and the South Seas Detachment consisting of the 144th Infantry Regiment.

4 May 1942: The Battle of the Coral Sea:
Tulagi, Solomons. Rear Admiral (MOH '14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (USNA ’06) (former CO of VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 17 attacks Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide’s (39) (former CO of OI) Tulagi Invasion Force. Douglas SBD "Dauntless" dive-bombers and Douglas TBD "Devastator" torpedo-bombers from USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) sink a destroyer and three minesweepers and damage four other ships.

5 May 1942:
Fletcher's force turns north to engage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo’s (39) (former CO of MUTSU) Carrier Strike Force's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU. SBDs and TBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON (CV-2) sink Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo’s (38) (former CO of MUTSU) light carrier SHOHO off Misima Island. In turn, Japanese planes damage oiler NEOSHO (AO-23) and sink destroyer SIMS (DD-409).

6 May 1942:
At 2200, ASAKASAN MARU finally rejoins the Transport Force.

8 May 1942:
Planes from LEXINGTON sight Takagi's Strike Force. SBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON damage SHOKAKU and force her retirement. ZUIKAKU’s air group suffers heavy losses. Takagi's bombers and attack planes strike Task Force 17 and damage YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON. Gasoline vapors ignite, triggering massive explosions that cause LEXINGTON to be abandoned. Later, she is scuttled by destroyer PHELPS (DD-360).

9 May 1942:
After order is given to the Transport Force to reverse course back at Rabaul.

13 May 1942:
The Battle of the Coral Sea halts the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and they are forced to cancel Operation MO. 30 July 1942:
DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) MARU departs Saeki for Saipan with transport BOSTON MARUescorted by Desdiv 4's ARASHI and HAGIKAZE,

6 August 1942:
Arrives at Saipan to pick up LtCol Ichiki Kiyonao's detachment of the 28th Infantry Regiment.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's (former CO of ASTORIA, CA-34), Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (MOH/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's Task Force 63's land-based aircraft, lands MajGen (later General/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to retake the islands.

That same day, DAIFUKU and BOSTON MARUs depart Saipan for Truk.

12 August 1942:
Arrive at Truk.

16 August 1942:
At 0500, DesDiv 4's ARASHI and HAGIKAZE, DesDiv 15's KAGERO and DesDiv 17's HAMAKAZE, TANIKAZE and URAKAZE depart Truk for Guadalcanal as the first echelon of a reinforcement convoy carrying 917 men of LtCol Ichiki Kiyonao's 28th Infantry Regiment.

The second echelon of the reinforcement convoy, also at 0500, departs Truk consisting of DAIFUKU and BOSTON MARUs carrying 1,100 men of Ichiki's Regiment escorted by light cruiser JINTSU and patrol boats PB-35 and PB-34. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo in JINTSU is in command of the convoy.

17 August 1942: At 0700, Armed Merchant Cruiser KINRYU MARU departs Truk carrying about 800 troops of the No. 5 Yokosuka SNLF in the third echelon escorted by subchaser CH-24 and patrol boats PB-1 and PB-2. Later this day, DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE, SUZUKAZE and UMIKAZE join the second echelon en route to Guadalcanal.

18 August 1942:
About noon, KINRYU MARU and her escorts join the second echelon still en route to Guadalcanal.

19 August 1942:
Cape Taivu, E of Lunga Point, Guadalcanal. At 0100, the first echelon lands LtCol Ichiki´s troops.

20 August 1942:
At midnight, Ichiki's troops storm Guadalcanal's "Henderson Field" in a frontal assault to retake the airfield, but almost all of Ichiki's men are cut down by U. S. Marines machine-gun and rifle fire. Ichiki commits suicide.

21 August 1942:
That evening, Tanaka receives a signal from Headquarters, Eighth Fleet indicating Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's Second Fleet and Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi's Third Fleet will support Tanaka's reinforcement convoy consisting of the second and third echelons.

22 August 1942:
Second and third ecehelons resume southward course after having reversed direction for a while due to the uncertain situation.

24 August 1942:
At 1100, the reinforcement convoy is now 55 km southeast of Ontong Java Islands, course southwest.

13 April 1943:
HIMALAYA MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy K-413 also consisting of DAIFUKU, HAMBURG, IKOMA, SORACHI and YOSHINO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO and patrol boat PB-46.

E 14 April 1943:
PB-46 is detached at 29N.

21 April 1943:
The convoy arrives at Palau. DAIFUKU MARU and torpedo boat HATO are detached.

18 August 1943:
MEXICO MARU departs departs Palau for Ujina in convoy FU-806 also consisting of DAIFUKU, HOZUGAWA, TOYOKAWA, TOUN and KAYO MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-17.

22 August 1943:
In the late afternoon, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Louis D. McGregor's (USNA ’30) old USS PIKE (SS-173) torpedoes and hits TOUN MARU with a dud Mark 14-3 torpedo at 21-50N, 137-52E.

23 August 1943:
At 1805, McGregor attacks TOUN MARU again, but she avoids PIKE's torpedoes.

26 August 1943:
At 0530, LtCdr (later Cdr) Albert C. Burrows' (USNA ’28) USS WHALE (SS-239) attacks the convoy. Burrows torpedoes, but misses MEXICO MARU.

27 August 1943:
At 31-50N, 133-58E, minelayer YURIJIMA joins convoy FU-806 then escorted by minesweeper W-17, auxiliary minesweepers TAMA MARU No. 7 and TAMA MARU No. 6 (the latter two from 30-30N, 134-05E).

At 0258, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Bafford E. Lewellen's (USNA ’31) old USS POLLACK (SS-180) makes a visual surface attack on convoy FU-806. Lewellen torpedoes DAIFUKU MARU. W-17 opens fire on POLLACK, but Lewellen evades and escapes. In the morning, DAIFUKU MARU sinks at 32-28N, 132-23E taking down 14 of 160 passengers, 14 crewmen and ashes of 137 dead.

At 0730, USN code breakers intercept and decrypt a message from W-17 that reads: "Discovered surfaced enemy submarine, 1 kilometer from scene of the sinking of DAIFUKU MARU fired on same (1 hit in vicinity of conning tower) depth charged, etc. 192 men of the 205 on board the stricken ship were picked up by this vessel.”

Authors' Note:
[1] Also known as TAIFUKU MARU.

[2] No data available for later requisition.

[3] Thanks go to Erich Muethlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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