(Cargo ship similar in appearance to KURETAKE MARU)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett

Port Glascow, Scotland. Laid down at R. Duncan & Co., Ltd as Yard No. 357, a 5,050-ton-cargo ship for Oriel Shipping Co. (J. Edgar & Co.), Liverpool.

25 March 1925:
Launched and named BENICA.

May 1925:

Sold to Tatsuuma Kisen, K. K. of Tsurmi. Renamed KURETAKE MARU.

In service on Tatsuuma Kisen’s Japan ~ United States and Japan ~ Australia routes.

1937: Second Sino – Japanese War.
Chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport.

30 October 1937:
Departs Osaka and arrives at Goto Islands. Carrries elements of the IJA 114th Division’s 150th Infantry Regiment.

3 November 1937:
KURETAKE MARU departs Goto Islands in a convoy also consisting of transports BEIJING, FUSHIMI, HORAI, JUYO, KARAFUTO, MEIKO, SHINYO, SHIN YUBARI, SHINSEI, TAIAN and YAMATO MARUs escorted by destroyer MIKAZUKI.

5 November 1937:
Arrives at Hangzhou Bay, China. Stands by for five days because of faulty landing craft.

10 November 1937:
Lands troops.

9 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport. Allotted Army No. 360.

1 December 1941:
Departs Yokosuka.

9 December 1941:
Arrives at Palau.

16-17 December 1941: The Occupation of Davao, Mindanao, Philippines:
The Davao Occupation Convoy departs Palau carrying the MajGen Sakaguchi Shizuo’s Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Mixed Infantry Corps, 146th Infantry Regiment, 1st Field Artillery Battalion), the Miura Detachment (part of the 16th Army Division) and the Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).

The convoy is organized into three subdivisions:
1st subdivision: Army transport YAMATSUKI MARU and Navy transports AMAGISAN, KINUGASA, KIRISHIMA, TAITO and TENRYU MARUs.
2nd subdivision: Army transports KURETAKE and TEIRYU MARUs carrying the 3rd Munitions Unit & the 103rd Aerial Field Repair Shop and Navy transports TENRYU MARU and TONAN MARU No. 2 escorted by destroyers AMATSUKAZE and OYASHIO and minelayer SHIRATAKA.
3rd subdivision: Army transports HANKOW and HAVANA MARUs and Navy transports KOSHIN, TATSUKAMI and EIKO MARUs.

16 December 1941:
At 1600, the 3rd subdivision departs Palau.

17 December 1941:
At 0700, the 2nd subdivision departs Palau. At 1300, the 1st subdivision departs Palau.

20 December 1941:
At 0145, the 1st subdivision arrives at Tibungko Anchorage (15 km NNE of Davao). At 0320, the 3rd subdivision arrives at Talomo Anchorage (6 km SW of Davao). At 0440, the 2nd subdivision arrives at Tibungko Anchorage.

The 2nd subdivision arrives at Davao, Philippines transporting the No. 1 Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).

22 December 1941:
KURETAKE MARU departs Davao in the Jolo Occupation Convoy also consisting of IJA transports HAVANA, LIVERPOOL, TEIRYU and TSURUGA MARUs and IJN transports KOSHIN and NICHIAI MARUs and EIKO MARU No. 2 and an unidentified transport. The convoy carries about 4,000 men consisting of the Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Mixed Infantry Corps, Matsumoto Detachment of the 146th Infantry Regiment, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, the Miura Detachment of the 16th Army Division, IJN 3rd Airfield Construction Unit, engineer and communications units and the Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF). The convoy is escorted by DesRon 2's light cruiser JINTSU and DesDiv 15's HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, NATSUSHIO and OYASHIO. Carrier RYUJO and seaplane tenders CHITOSE and SANUKI MARU provide air cover.

24 December 1941: The Invasion of Jolo, Philippines
At 2000, the landings on Jolo, Philippines begin.

25 December 1941:
At 1030, Jolo, including its airfield, is secured.

26 December 1941:
The first IJN fighters land on Jolo.

6 January 1942: The Invasion of Tarakan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1100, KURETAKE MARU departs Daliao (13 km SW of Davao) in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto´s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force Convoy’s 2nd subdivision (left wing unit) also consisting of Army transports TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), HAVANA and NICHIAI MARUs and Navy transports KAGU, KUNITSU and RAKUTO MARUs. The 2nd subdivision transports the 56th Infantry Group (Sakaguchi Detachment), 5th Construction Unit and 2nd Defense Unit.

10 January 1942:
At 1900, both the 1st and 2nd subdivisions arrive at No. 1 Anchorage. At 2215, the 2nd subdivision including HAVANA MARU departs No. 1 Anchorage.

11 January 1942:
At 0100, arrives at No. 2 Anchorage At 0220, the landing barges cast off from the transport ships and head towards the landing zone on the SE coast of Tarakan.

21 January 1942:
At 1700, KURETAKE MARU departs Tarakan in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto's (former CO of AOBA) Balikpapan Invasion Force convoy carrying the Sakaguchi Detachment in the 2nd subdivision also consisting of Army transports HANKOW, TEIRYU and HAVANA MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment) and Navy transports KANAYAMASAN MARU (2nd Construction Unit), FUJIKAGE (TOEI) MARU (1st Defense Unit) and NANA MARU (11th Air Fleet Transport). Hirose’s No. 2 Base Force includes patrol boats PB-36, PB-37 and PB-38, MinesweepDiv 11’s W-13, W-14, W-15, W-16, MinesweepDiv 30’s W-17, W-18 and SubchaDiv 31’s CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12 and other auxiliary ships.

Cover is provided by light cruiser NAKA with DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, MURASAME, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and UMIKAZE. Seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

Poor weather hampers air reconnaissance by ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) forces, but ABDA Air finally locates the invasion force. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William A. Glassford's Task Force 5's light cruisers USS MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), BOISE (CL-47) and Cdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Paul H. Talbot's (USNA '18) DesDiv 59's old destroyers USS PARROTT (DD-218), POPE (DD-225), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230) are ordered to stop the invasion force, but BOISE runs aground and MARBLEHEAD develops engine trouble. DesDiv 59 is detached and increases speed to arrive at Balikpapan at midnight on January 23rd.

24 January 1942:
Cdr Talbot's DesDiv 59 arrives from the south and enters Balikpapan Bay at 27 knots. At 0316, they begin their first attack firing their 4-inch guns and launching ten torpedoes at the anchored transports silhoutted against burning oil tanks set afire by the Dutch, but all their Mark 15 torpedoes miss. Talbot orders another attack. At 0330, POPE hits and sinks transport SUMANOURA MARU. At 0335, PARROTT and PAUL JONES torpedo and sink already damaged TATSUGAMI MARU in Balikpapan Bay at 01-18 S, 117-04E. At 0350, their torpedoes gone, DesDiv 59 departs southward.

At 0345, JOHN D. FORD sinks KURETAKE MARU with gunfire and torpedoes. Six crewmen and 272 troops are KIA.

Author's Notes:
Thanks go to Erich.Muehlthaler of Germany and to John Whitman of Virginia for info on IJA troops.

Bob Hackett

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