(LISBON MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2018 Bob Hackett
Revision 2

15 October 1919:
Yokohama. Laid down at Yokohama Dock Co. as a 7,038-ton passenger cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), K. K. (Japan Mail Steamship Co.).

31 May 1920:
Launched and named LISBON MARU.

8 July 1920:
Completed and placed on NYK's Yokohama ~ New York service until the outbreak of the Pacific War.

1 November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army and assigned IJA No. 972.

8 December 1941: The Pacific War Begins
Hong Kong. The Japanese open their offensive and move troops across the New Territories frontier.

17 December 1941: The Invasion of Lamon Bay, Southern Luzon:
Imperial General Headquarters launches the combined IJA and IJN Lamon Bay Operation. The Army force consists of Gen (later Field Marshal) Count Terauchi Hisachi’s Southern Expeditionary Army. Its 14th Army, under LtGen Homma Masaharu, fields MajGen Morioka Susumu's Invasion Unit of about 7,000 troops consisting of elements of the 16th Infantry division: 20th Infantry, 22nd Field Artillery, HQ and II Battalion, 16 HQ Company, 16th Eng Battalion, 16th Recon Battalion, 3/45 AA Company, 16th Transport, 16th Signal Company, 16th Medical Unit and 16th Veterinary Unit. Two AA and one Signals regiments are stationed on IJA transports.


The naval force consists of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35)(former CO of KONGO) Southern Force, Philippines Invasion Group that includes Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (35)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji’s (38) (former CO of KAGA) Invasion Unit consists of his 1st Base Force HQ, in light cruiser NAGARA, 1st Quartermaster Ports and Docks Unit and 1st Naval Signal Unit, aboard HAKUSAN MARU, 1st Naval Guard Unit, aboard KIMISHIMA MARU, 1st Naval Survey Unit in SENKO MARU and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunizo's (40)(former CO of SATA) Sasebo No. 1 and 2 Combined Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) aboard MYOKO MARU.

The convoy’s escort consists of light cruiser NAGARA (F), heavy cruiser ASHIGARA, destroyers TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE, KAWAKAZE, SUSUKAZE, UMIKAZE, YAMAKAZE, minelayer AOTAKA, minesweepers W-7 and W-8, auxiliary gunboat/minelayer IKUSHIMA MARU, auxiliary gunboats BUSHO, KEIKO, KANKO and MYOKEN MARUs, auxiliary subchasers SHONAN MARU No. 17 and TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 and auxiliary netlayer FUKUEI MARU No. 15.

At 1500, the Invasion Force departs Koniya, Amami Oshima for Lamon Bay, Quezon, Philippines.

24 December 1941:
At 0200, the Invasion Force arrives at Lamon Bay. The landings proceed without strong opposition.

25 December 1941: Christmas Day and the Fall of Hong Kong:
Hong Kong. MajGen Christopher M. Maltby, British Indian Army, advises Governor Sir Mark A. Young to surrender the outnumbered British garrison because of lack of food and water. At 1800, in Japanese headquarters in the Peninsula Hotel at Kowloon, Young surrenders the Crown Colony to LtGen Sakai Takashi, C-in-C, 23rd Army. That night, nearly 6,500 British and Commonwealth troops go into Japanese captivity.

26 January 1942:
LISBON MARU departs Tsingtao, China in a convoy also consisting of DURBAN, FUJI, KAIMEI, KAYO, KOFUKU, NICHIREN, SHINSEI (4758 grt) and UME MARUs.

27 January 1942:
Old destroyer HASU departs Shanghai on 27 Jan 42 and later that day joins the convoy off the Yangtze estuary.

28 January 1942:
Auxiliary gunboat DAIGEN MARU No.7 departs Ssu-chiao (Shan) Island (Raffles Island). At 1000, 6 nm WNW of Hua-niao Shan Island (North Saddle) DAIGEN MARU No.7 joins destroyer HASU and KOFUKU MARU and 8 other ships.

At 2300, NICHIREN MARU suffers a bent crank-shaft and becomes unnavigable. The ship must await towing. The convoy continues on. At 2350, DAIGEN MARU No.7 is detached from convoy escort duty and guards NICHIREN MARU.

29 January 1942:
NICHIREN MARU is taken in tow by FUYO MARU. Later that day, she is anchored ca. 20 nm east of Chiu-Shan (Kueshan) Islands, Chekiang Province, China.

30 January 1942:
DAIGEN MARU No.7 patrols off Chiu-Shan Islands all day.

15 nm SE of Taichow Islands. At 0730, SHINKO MARU No.1 Go joins destroyer HASU and the convoy as an escort. At 1630, At 1630, minelayer SOKUTEN also joins the convoy and takes over escort duty. SHINKO MARU No. 1 GO is detached.

31 January 1942:
NICHIREN MARU departs northward from Chiu-Shan Islands escorted by DAIGEN MARU No.7. The remainder of the convoy arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

1 February 1942:
E of Tung-ting Island. At 1000, DAIGEN MARU No.7 is detached from escorting NICHIREN MARU.

2 February 1942:
LISBON MARU departs Mako for Haiphong, Vichy French Indochina in a convoy now also consisting of DURBAN, FUJI, KAIMEI, KAYO, KOFUKU, SHINSEI (4758 grt) and UME MARUs escorted by torpedo boat KASASAGI. LISBON MARU is carrying the main elements of the IJA 21st Army Division. LISBON MARU is fully loaded with soldiers, horses and equipment.

After passing the anti-submarine net at the harbor entrance, LISBON MARU takes a faulty course. Soon after, at 0855 (JST), she hits a Japanese defensive mine.amidships, becomes unnavigable and floods. 19 men are killed/wounded. Due to the danger of sinking, all hands are ordered to abandon ship. Afterwards, a naval operated tug arrives, takes the drifting ship in tow and beaches her on the south coast of Boko To (Penghu Tao), Formosa. Later, the crew returns and lands much troop material and ship items.

19 February 1942:
Salvage vessel TATEGAMI arrives at Mako to assist the salvage of LISBON MARU.

24 March 1942:
LISBON MARU is successfully refloated.

May 1942:
Towed to Hong Kong by YOSHIDA MARU No. 1 escorted by auxiliary patrol boats OYO and ROYO MARUs. Later, towed to Singapore repairs, probably at recently captured Seletar Naval Base.

15 September 1942:
Completes repairs and departs.

September 1942:
LISBON MARU arrives at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

September 1942:
Departs Guadalcanal for Hong Kong.

September 1942:
Arrives off Kowloon, Hong Kong. Anchors near Stonecutter's Island.

25 September 1942:
Shamshuipo POW camp, Hong Kong. 1,816 British prisoners of war (POW) are assembled on the parade ground. LtCol H. W. M. Stewart, former CO, 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment is the POWs' senior officer. The POws include men from the Middlesex, Royal Artillery, Royal Scots and Royal Engineers. Over the next two days, the POWs are embarked aboard Captain Kyoda Shigeru's LISBON MARU that also carries 778 IJA troops and 25 guards.

27 September 1942:
Departs Hong Kong via Shanghai for Japan.

30 September 1942:
S of Shanghai. At about 0400 LtCdr (later Cdr) Rob R. McGregor's (USNA ’29) USS GROUPER (SS-214) sights nine sampans and a large freighter. McGregor decided that the moonlight night is too bright for a surface attack, so he tracks the target to determine her speed and course, then takes up station ahead of her and waits for daylight.

1 October 1942:
China coast, six miles from Tung Fusham Island. At 0704, GROUPER (SS-214) fires three unreliable Mark 14 torpedoes at LISBON MARU at 3200 yards. The torpedoes either pass under the target or fail to detonate. McGregor fires a fourth torpedo that explodes against LISBON MARU's stern, bringing her to a stop. At 0845, GROUPER fires a sixth torpedo that also misses. Patrol boats and aircraft attack GROUPER, but McGregor stays in the vicinity. At 1905, with visibility now poor, GROUPER surfaces and departs the area.

During the day, the Japanese troops are taken off by IJN destroyer KURI and cargo ship TOYOKUNI MARU. The Japanese make arrangements for LISBON MARU to be towed to shallow waters. Meanwhile, for 26 hours, the POWs are left battened down in the holds.

2 October 1942:
In the morning, as LISBON MARU begins to settle by the stern, the POWs break out of the holds. Colonel Stewart orders the POWs to abandon ship. Japanese aboard ships alongside fire at the escaping prisoners and those swimming in the water. Other POWs are picked up by Chinese junks and sampans and taken to nearby islands.

LISBON MARU sinks at 30-17N, 123-13E with loss of three IJA soldiers and 826 POWs. Six or seven POWs manage to escape, assisted by the Chinese. The rest are recaptured by the Japanese.

17 April 2018:
A Chinese-American businessman announces to the Press that he is making plans to recover the remains of 828 prisoners-of-war (POWs) who drowned when LISBON MARU was torpedoed more than 75 years ago.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France and Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports