(KYUSHU MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett

10 August 1937:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.’s Shipyard & Machinery Works as Yard No. 711, an 8,666-ton passenger-cargo ship for Harada Kisen K.K., Osaka.

18 December 1938:
Launched and named KYUSHU MARU. [1]

31 May 1938:
Completed and chartered to affiliate Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK), K.K.

9 July 1938:
Departs Yokohama on her maiden voyage to New York.

8 July 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and operated with a civilian crew as an Ippan Choyosen (B-AK).

5 October 1941:
Released by the IJN.

Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) Alloted IJA No.906. Converted to a troop transport. Her armament consists of one IJA field artillery gun.

27 November 1941:
At 1200, KYUSHU MARU arrives at the Samah, Hainan Island, China assembly area.

4 December 1941:
At 0600, KYUSHU MARU departs Samah, Hainan Island, China in a convoy consisting of 18 transports carrying LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki's ("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, MinSwpDiv 1’s W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4, W-5, W-6 and W-8 and subchaser CH-9.

The convoy carries the Kra Isthmus, Singora, Patani and Kota Bharu Invasion Units. Distant cover is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (38)(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. 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:
At 2340, KYUSHU MARU arrives at Singora (Songkhla), Siam (Thailand) with the Singora Invasion Unit escorted by DesDivs 12’s MURAKUMO, 19 and DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and SHIRAKUMO, minelayer HATSUTAKA (F), MinSwpDiv 1’s W-1, W-4, W-5, W-6 and W-8. Air cover is provided from seaplane tenders SANYO, SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs.

KYUSHU MARU anchors off the coast and begins to land troops. The Invasion Unit lands elements of Yamashita’s 25th Army and LtGen Matsui Takuro’s 5th Infantry Divison's 9th and 21st Infantry Brigades. Troops involved are elements of 5th Division 5th HQ Company, Kawamura Detachment Brigade, 5th Engineer Battalion, 5th Rec Engineer, 1st Tank Battalion with 37 Type 97 medium tanks and 20 Type 95 light tanks, 9th Railroad Engineer Battalion, 11th Engineer Battalion and various Air units. The landings proceed without strong opposition.

12 December 1941:
Arrives back at Samah, Hainan.

20 February 1942:
At 1600, KYUSHU MARU departs Camranh Bay inthe 10th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy consisting of two divisions: 1st division: KYUSHU, AOBASAN, KANSAI, NAGARA, NAKO and SADO MARUs; 2nd division: CANBERRA, HIROKAWA, SAGAMI, SAKITO, and SASAKO MARUs. The convoy is escorted by light cruiser SENDAI and destroyers FUBUKI and SHIKINAMI.

22 February 1942:
At 1800, both divisions arrive at Singora.

E 4 June 1942:
KYUSHU MARU departs Hesaki in a convoy also consisting of cargo ship KAISHO MARU and tankers NISSHIN and TATEKAWA MARUs.

5 June 1942:
Passes through the Bungo Suido.

10 October 1942:
Attached to Combined Fleet. KYUSHU MARU’s primary mission is to transport LtGen Harukichi Hyakutake’s 17th Army’s troops and IJN SNLF troops to Guadalcanal in a “High Speed Convoy”.

12 October 1942: - First Assault Convoy for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal:
KYUSHU MARU departs Rabaul for Guadalcanal via Shortlands in a “High Speed Convoy” also consisting of transports NANKAI, SADO, SAKITO and SASAKO MARUs escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Takama Tamotsu’s (41) DesRon 4’s AKIZUKI (F), Desdivs 2’s YUDACHI, HARUSAME, SAMIDARE, MURASAME and DesDiv 27’s SHIGURE, SHIRATSUYU and ARIAKE.

The convoy carries about 4,500 troops including the IJA’s 16th Regiment, two battalions of the 230th Infantry Regiment and 824 men of the No. 4 Maizuru Special Naval Landing Force ( SNLF) from Rabaul and Shortlands. The ships also carry a battery of 100-mm guns and a battery of 150-mm howitzers, the 38th Field AA battalion, the 45th Field AA Battalion, one company of the 47th Field AA battalion, the 1st Company of the 38th Engineer Regiment, the 1st Independent Tank Company, one section of the 38th Division Signal Company, ammunition and provisions. Air cover is provided by the 11th Air Fleet and the R-Area Air Force's floatplane fighters.

At 1400, about 100 miles from Shortlands’ anchorage, the convoy is attacked by 30 aircraft of the ‘Cactus Air Force’. At 1530, a second attack occurs. Both are ineffective however and the ships sustain no damage, the convoy arriving at Shortlands later that same day.

13 October 1942:
The convoy departs Shortlands and arrives at midnight at Tassafaronga. Unloading operations are undergone.

14 October 1942:
At dawn, Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters from carriers HIYO and JUNYO and floatplane fighters of the R-Area Air Force provide cover over the unloading operation. At 0600, a flight of six Grumman F4F "Wildcat' fighters strafe the transports. One F4F is lost and another damaged as is a floatplane fighter.

At about 1030, the transports are attacked by the “Cactus Air Force” (later Air Sols) from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal with a force of 25 aircraft including 12 Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bombers, three USAAF P-39s and one P-400 “Airacobra” fighters, eight F4F fighter and one PBY-5 “Catalina” armed with two torpedoes. SASAKO MARU is hit and a fatal fire starts. She is beached and becomes a total loss, but her troops, tanks, and guns are landed successfully.

At 1145, NANKAI MARU, having completed her unloading, departs the area escorted by destroyer ARIAKE.

At 1150, after most of the remaining transports had landed almost all of their troops and heavy equipment, a flight of 11 B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers from Espiritu Santo attack the transports. AZUMASAN MARU is hit and beached.

At about 1330, in another American air attack, KYUSHU MARU is hit by a bomb, set afire and beached. The two transports’ troops, tanks and guns are landed successfully, but the tank fuel and ammunition they carried are lost. Both ships burn out and become total losses.

15 December 1942:
Stricken by the IJA.

Author's Note:
[1] Also known as KYUSYU MARU and other names.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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