RIKUGUN BOKU KIKANSEN
(HIROKAWA MARU, prewar)
IJA AA Transport HIROKAWA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement
© 2011 Bob Hackett and Gilbert Casse
6 April 1939:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha as a 6,872-ton cargo
ship for the Kawasaki Kisen, K. K. Line.
10 May 1940:
Launched and named HIROKAWA MARU.
12 October 1940:
Completed and placed in Kawasaki’s “K” Line's merchant service.
Completes one voyage for the “K” Line.
8 February 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army, registered as ship No. 846 and converted to a Boku Kikansen (anti-aircraft) vessel. Fitted with six IJA Type 88 75-mm AA and four IJA Type 98 20-mm AA machine cannons.
6 November 1941:
E November 1941:
Arrives at Wusong, off Shanghai. Departs later for Hainan Island.
28 November 1941:
Hainan Island, China. At 1300, HIROKAWA MARU arrives at Samah.
4 December 1941:
At 0600, HIROKAWA MARU departs Samah in a convoy consisting of 18 transports carrying LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki's (the "Tiger of Malaya") 25th Army to the Gulf of Thailand escorted by light cruiser SENDAI, DesDivs 12’s MURAKUMO, DesDiv 19's AYANAMI, ISONAMI, SHIKINAMI and URANAMI, DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and SHIRAKUMO, minelayer HATSUTAKA, MinSweepDiv 1’s W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4, W-5, W-6 and W-8 and subchaser CH-9.
Distant cover is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (former CO of KONGO) CruDiv 7’s MOGAMI, MIKUMA, SUZUYA and KUMANO and destroyers FUBUKI, SHIRAYUKI and HATSUYUKI. Air cover is provided from seaplane tenders SANYO, SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs.
The convoy carries the Pattani, Kra Isthmus, Singora and Kota Bharu, Siam (Thailand) IJA 5th Division Invasion Units. En route, the convoy and its escorts split into the respective Invasion Units and head for their assigned landing and covering points.
7 December 1941:
Pattani, Siam. At 2340, HIROKAWA MARU arrives with the Pattani Invasion Unit consisting of transports TOZAN, SAGAMI and KINKA MARUs escorted by DesDivs 12’s SHINONOME and DesDiv 20’s SHIRAKUMO. The invasion units lands troops of the IJA’s 5th Infantry’s 42nd Regiment and 22nd airfield unit. HIROKAWA MARU lands the Ando Detachment.
E 8 December 1941:
Departs Pattani for Wusong.
E 11 December 1941:
Arrives at Wusong.
15 December 1941:
Departs Wusong for Humen.
17 December 1941:
Arrives at Humen.
18 December 1941:
17 January 1942:
Arrives at Camranh Bay, Indochina.
18 January 1942:
Departs Camranh Bay for Singora, Siam (now Songhkla, Thailand).
22 January 1942:
Arrives at Singora.
26 January 1942:
Departs Singora for Saigon, Indochina (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
30 January 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.
31 January 1942:
Departs Saigon arriving that same day at Camranh Bay.
9 February 1942: Operation "L" - The Invasion of Palembang:
HIROKAWA MARU departs Camranh Bay for Palembang in an invasion convoy consisting of TSUSHIMA, RAKUYO, LIMA, MACASSAR, KENZUI, SHINSEI, MEIGEN, BUYO, SINGAPORE (later renamed SHONAN), GINYO, INABASAN and ARGUN MARUS and supply ship NOJIMA escorted by light cruiser KASHII, DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, and YUGIRI, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA, mineweeper W-6 and SubChasDiv 11's 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.
15 February 1942:
In the largest capitulation in British military history, the Straits Settlement of Singapore falls to the Japanese. LtGen Arthur E. Percival, RA, surrenders his numerically superior, but ill-equipped and poorly led, force to LtGen Yamashita and his victorious 25th Army.
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:
HIROKAWA MARU and the transport convoy depart Palembang for Singapore.
3 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.
10 March 1942:
Departs Singapore for Labuhanruku, (now Laboehanroekoe) Sumatra.
12 March 1942:
Arrives at Labuhanruku.
13 March 1942:
Departs Labuhanruku for Singapore.
15 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.
19 March 1942:
HIROKAWA MARU departs Singapore with 31 transports escorted by light cruisers KASHII (F), YURA, DesRons 3 and 5, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA, MineSweepDiv 1's W-1, W-3 and W-4, SpecSubChasDiv 91's auxiliary subchasers CHOKO MARU and SHONAN MARU No. 5 and No. 7 and the 9th Base Force's gunboat EIKO MARU. The transports carry the IJA's 56th Infantry Division. Arrives at Penang, Malaya later that day.
20 March 1942:
HIROKAWA MARU departs Penang with eight troop transports escorted by light cruisers KASHII and YURA, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA, MineSweepDiv 1's W-1, W-3 and W-4, SubChasDiv 91's CHOKO MARU and SHONAN MARU No. 5 and No. 7 and gunboat EIKO MARU. The remaining 23 transports and escorts continue on to Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar).
Seaplane tender SAGARA MARU provides air cover from an area east of the Nicobars.
23 March 1942: Operation "D" - The Invasion of the Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean:
HIROKAWA MARU lands a battalion of the IJA 18th Infantry Division at Port Blair and nearby Ross Island. The landing is unopposed.
24 March 1942:
Departs Port Blair for Singapore.
26 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Probably loads supplies.
27 March 1942:
Departs Singapore for Port Blair.
2 April 1942:
Arrives at Port Blair. Unloads supplies.
3 April 1942:
Departs Port Blair for Rangoon.
8 April 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon. Unloads supplies
13 April 1942:
Departs Rangoon for Singapore.
18 April 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.
19 April 1942:
Departs Singapore for Saigon.
22 April 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.
1 May 1942:
Departs Saigon for Ujina, Hiroshima Prefecture.
8 May 1942:
Arrives at Ujina. Probably undergoes some maintenance and repairs.
1 June 1942:
Departs Ujina for Manila.
9 June 1942:
Arrives at Manila.
2 July 1942:
Departs Manila for Ujina.
8 July 1942:
Arrives at Ujina. Departs later for Osaka.
10 July 1942:
Arrives at Osaka. Departs later for Ujina.
E 11 July 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.
12 July 1942:
Departs Ujina for Humen, southern China.
22 July 1942:
Arrives at Humen.
E July 1942:
5 August 1942:
Arrives at Belawan, Sumatra. Departs that same day for Singapore.
6 August 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Departs later for Dairen, Manchuria (now Dalian, China).
E August 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.
2 September 1942:
Departs Dairen for Kobe.
4 September 1942:
Arrives at Kobe.
8 September 1942:
21 September 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.
27 September 1942:
Departs Singapore for Belawan, Sumatra.
29 September 1942:
Arrives at Belawan. Departs later that same day for Surabaya, Java.
30 September 1942:
Arrives at Surabaya.
4 October 1942:
Departs Surabaya for Rabaul, New Britain.
14 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.
15 October 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Shortland Island, Solomons.
16 October 1942:
arrives at Shortland.
12 November 1942:
Departs Shortland in convoy for Guadalcanal but the convoy is recalled part way of its destination. Arrives back at Shortland later that same day.
13 November 1942: - Second Assault Convoy for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
At 1730, ComDesRon 2’s Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) Reinforcement Unit’s troop transports depart Shortlands for Tassafaronga carrying the IJA's 38th Army Division and Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, equipment and provisions. The Reinforcement Unit consists of two groups: Group No. 1 includes HIROKAWA, NAGARA, SADO, CANBERRA and NAKO MARUs while Group No. 2 includes BRISBANE, SHINANOGAWA, ARIZONA, KINUGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMATSUKI MARUs. The Reinforcement Unit is escorted by Tanaka’s DesRon 2’s HAYASHIO, AMAGIRI, KAGERO, KAWAKAZE, MAKINAMI, MOCHIZUKI, NAGANAMI, OYASHIO, SUZUKAZE, TAKANAMI and UMIKAZE. Air cover is provided by the 11th Air Fleet and the "R-Area" Air Force's floatplane fighters.
The units carried by the Reinforcement Unit include the 229th Infantry Regiment HQ, 229th Infantry Regiment’s 1st Battalion, 230th Infantry Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, 38th Division Engineer Regiment, 38th Transport Regiment, 38th Medical Unit, part of the 2nd Division (Medical Unit, three Field Hospitals), 19th Independent Engineer Regiment, 52nd and 80th Independent Radio Platoons, 3rd Field Transport Command, 212th Independent Automobile Company, 52nd Independent Transport Company, 17th Water Supply and Purification Department and 17th Army HQ personnel.
14 November 1942:
At 0849, as Tanaka's Reinforcement Group proceeds down the "Slot" between the New Georgia and Santa Isabel Islands, the 23-ship convoy is sighted by two reconnaissance Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bombers from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). At 0908, the SDBs each attack a transport, but miss. One SBD is shot down by Japanese fighters.
Off Guadalcanal. At 1250, 18 Marine Corps SBD dive-bombers and seven USN Grumman "Avenger" TBF torpedo-bombers of VT-10 attack the convoy. Mitsubishi A6Ms shoot down some aircraft, but are engaged by Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighters and cannot stop the attack. NAGARA MARU is torpedoed and CANBERRA MARUs is bombed and sunk. The Americans also damage SADO MARU.
At about 1430, 13 SBD’s make another attack and set BRISBANE MARU ablaze until she later sinks. At about 1500, a flight of seven B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers from the 11th Bomb Group (H) at Espiritu Santo attack two transports, but score no hits. About 1515, a second flight of eight B-17s attacks the convoy, but also score no hits, although their gunners claim six of 15 attacking A6Ms "Zekes".
At about 1530, SHINANOGAWA and ARIZONA MARUs are attacked by eight SBDs from ENTERPRISE. Both transports are hit by 1,000-lb bombs and abandoned. About 1610, 14 Marine and Navy SBDs and three TBFs sink transport NAKA MARU. 
14 November 1942: Guadalcanal Second Assault Convoy:
At 1741, DesRon 2’s Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo (41) receives orders from the Combined Fleet to make for Guadalcanal with his remaining force. At 1815, HIROKAWA MARU departs for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal in Tanaka’s Reinforcement Unit with KINUGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMATSUKI MARUs escorted by Tanaka’s Des Div 15’s HAYASHIO (F), OYASHIO, KUROSHIO and KAGERO, DesDiv 31’s TAKANAMI, NAGANAMI and MAKINAMI, DesDiv 24’s SUZUKAZE, KAWAKAZE and UMIKAZE.
15 November 1942: The Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal:
At 0025, Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake (35) (former CO of KONGO), Deputy Commander of the Combined Fleet, after losing battleship KIRISHIMA, orders “all units to attack” two enemy battleships 6 miles north of Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.
Prior to receipt of Kindo’s order, Rear Admiral Tanaka already had detached Des Div 15’s OYASHIO and KAGERO with orders to attack any American ship closing the convoy. At 0033, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Willis A. Lee (USNA ’04) aboard Task Force 64’s new battleship USS WASHINGTON (BB-56) spots the Japanese destroyers laying a smoke screen close ahead to starboard. WASHINGTON’s CO, Captain (later Vice Admiral) Glenn B. Davis (USNA ’13), orders a hard starboard turn to avoid the risk of a torpedo attack in the smoke. Lee orders WASHINGTON to continue the turn and retire southward.
OYASHIO and KAGERO chase the fast moving target. At 0039, while KAGERO’s officers struggle to identify the target, OYASHIO’s less cautious CO fires a spread of torpedoes at WASHINGTON, but they miss.
Admiral Kondo orders Tanaka to beach his troop convoy at Tassafaronga. At, 0051, Tanaka’s remaining four transports get underway from an anchorage where they had taken refuge during a squall. By about 0400, HIROKAWA and KINUGAWA MARU’s captains’ beach their ships in the mouth of the Bonegi River near Tassafaronga. YAMAURA MARU’s captain runs her aground in Doma Cove and YAMATSUKI MARU is beached at Aruligo Point. By dawn, about 2,000 troops aboard the transports make shore.
From 1012 until 1054, LtCdr (later Cdr) Raymond S. Lamb’s USS MEADE (DD-602) opens fire with her 5-inch main armament and 40-mm AA guns on the transports in Doma Cove and along the beaches of the northern coast of Guadalcanal. Later that day, the burning hulks are attacked and finished off by Navy and Marine SBDs and TBFs.
 The Japanese lose about 450 men KIA in the 13 Nov '42 action. Although troop losses and other casualties for individual ships are unknown, the destroyers rescue more than 4,800 men.
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and John Whitman of the USA.
-Bob Hackett and Gilbert Casse
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