LONDON MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012 Bob Hackett

1921: Birkenhead, England. Laid down by Cammel Laird & Co. Ltd. for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Kobe as a 7,191-ton passenger cargo ship.

3 September 1921:
Launched and named LONDON MARU.

21 February 1922:
Completed. She can accommodate 20 first-class passengers and carries 71 crewmen. Placed on OSK’s Kobe ~ Europe route.

September 1923: The Great Kanto Earthquake:
Following the disaster, LONDON MARU recues 2,000 refugees in the Yokohama area. She also serves as floating telecommunications center temporarily replacing destroyed shore stations.

April 1925:
LONDON MARU is in service on OSK’s Kobe ` Puget Sound route with ports of call at Vancouver and Seattle.

December 1929-June 1930:
LONDON MARU’s ports of call are from Kobe, Yokkaichi, Shimizu, Yokohama, Vancouver, Seattle and then returns via Vancouver, Yokohama, Osaka, Kobe, Dairen, Taku Bar.

7 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). Allotted IJA No. 798.

November 1941:
Transports troops from China to Camranh Bay, Indochina in preparation for the invasion of Malaya.

13 December 1941 - Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, departs Camranh Bay in the IJA 5th Infantry Division Transportation Movement. LONDON MARU is in the 2nd Unit's TransDiv 2 with TAIBUN, KOYU, SHINAI, KAMOI and WAKATSU MARUs. The Movement carries the main body of the 5th Infantry Division.

16 December 1941:
At 1900, arrives at Singora, Siam (now Songhkla, Thailand) supporting the Singora Invasion Unit that landed on 8 December.

26 July 1942:
Released to her owners by the IJA.

9 October 1942:
LONDON MARU departs Saigon, Indochina for Yokohama in an unnumbered convoy also consisting of AFRICA and HAWAII MARUs without escort.

20 October 1942:
At 2359 (H), LtCdr Jesse L. Hull's (USNA '26) USS FINBACK (SS-230) fires six torpedoes at the convoy. AFRICA MARU is hit by two torpedoes, takes on a list and sinks six minutes later at 24-26N, 120-26N. She was carrying a 7,568-ton cargo of corn, rice and general supplies and 38 passengers. Three of her crew of 112 men are KIA. LONDON MARU is also hit but remains afloat.

22 December 1942:
At 1150, LONDON MARU departs Futtsu in West Convoy No. 80 also consisting of ISSEI and HOKKO MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-17 At an unknown point, W-17 detaches.

9 June 1943:
Departs Singapore in the “Kyokuyo Maru” convoy also consisting of tankers KYOKUYO and OTORISAN MARUs without escort.

12 June 1943:
Arrives at St Jacques, Indochina.

2 July 1943:
LONDON MARU departs Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan) in convoy No. 278 also consisting of RONSAN and MANSHU MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KURETAKE.

6 July 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

7 August 1943:
LONDON MARU departs Takao for Yulin, Hainan Island, China in convoy No. 314 also consisting of transports HAMBURG and RYUYO MARUs and KOTO MARU No. 2 GO, cargo ship KENSEI (ex-British HINSANG) MARU, civilian cargo ship FUKUJU MARU and tankers KONSAN and NITTETSU MARUs escorted by auxiliary gunboat CHOJUSAN MARU.

11 August 1943:
Arrives at Yulin.

27 September 1943:
At 1100, LONDON MARU departs Cholon, Saigon for Takao in an unidentified convoy with TOKUSHIMA MARU and oiler TACHIBANA MARU with an unknown escort.

28 September 1943:
?? LONDON MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 207 also consisting of eight unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

2 October 1943:
At 0600, arrives at Mako.

E 7 October 1943:
?? Arrives at Moji.

19 November 1943:
LONDON MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 115 also consisting of transport NIPPONKAI MARU and tankers OGURA MARU No. 1 and KOTO MARU No. 2 GO, ore carrier GYOKUREI MARU and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU. Several of these vessels departed from Sasebo and joined convoy. Soon after departure, CHOHAKUSAN MARU's engine breaks down and she returns to port.

24 November 1943:
At 0400, GYOKUREI MARU is detached for Keelung at 26-0N, 120-10E and KOTO MARU No. 2 GO is detached for Hong Kong.

26 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

7 December 1943:
At 1100, LONDON MARU arrives at St Jacques from Mako in a convoy also consisting of BIZAN, SUNGSHAN (SUZAN), MATSUMOTO MARUs and an unidentified ship.

26 February 1944:
LONDON MARU departs Moji in convoy MOTA-06 also consisting of GOZAN, ISHIKARI, DAISEI, SHIRAHAMA MARUs and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan AWAJI and fleet storeship MUROTO.

29 February 1944:
Anchors off Ssu Chiao Shan, China.

1 March 1944:
Departs Ssu Chiao Shan.

4 March 1944:
At 1200, arrives at Takao.

6 March 1944:
LONDON MARU departs Takao via Yulin for Cap St Jacques, Indochina in convoy TASA-08 also consisting of NICHIREI, TOYOKUNI, ISHIKARI MARUs and four unidentified ships escorted by subchasers CH-21, CH-41 and CH-43 and auxilary gunboat PEKING MARU. TOYOKUNI MARU carries supplies and general cargo while en route to Yulin probably to load more bauxite ore.

7 March 1944:
HAKUROKU MARU falls behind with engine problems, but later catches up at 1620.

8 March 1944:
YAMAHAGI and TEIKA MARUs are detached for Kirun (Keelung), Formosa (Taiwan).

SE of Hong Kong. At 1455, LtCdr Lowell T. Stone’s (USNA ’29) USS LAPON (SS-260) torpedoes and damages TOYOKUNI MARU. She loses power and goes dead in the water. NICHIREI MARU takes her in tow.

9 March 1944:
350 miles W of Cape Bojeador, Luzon. At 0150, while NICHIREI MARU is still towing TOYOKUNI MARU, USS LAPON torpedoes NICHIREI MARU. LtCdr Stone also torpedoes TOYOKUNI MARU. Hit by three torpedoes in the two attacks, she drifts away and sinks at 19-21N, 116-09E. 15 men are KIA.

The escorts, including an aircraft, counterattack, but fail to damage LAPON. At about 0500, NICHIREI MARU sinks at 19-44N, 115-52E. 46 crewmen and six gunners are KIA. Later that day, LONDON MARU and the rest of the convoy arrives at Takao.

6 April 1943:
LONDON MARU arrives at Tokyo Bay in convoy No. 8404 also consisting of FUKUYAMA and SHISEN MARUs escort by minesweeper W-4.

19 April 1944:
LONDON MARU departs Singapore for Cap St. Jacques and Saigon in convoy SHISA-17 also consisting of transport NAGATA MARU, tankers NISSHIN, KORYU MARUs and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 3 escorted by subchaser CH-9.

22 April 1944:
Off Cape St. Jacques. At 1945, seven USAAF B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers of the 14th Air Force's 308th Bomb Group make a low-level attack on convoy SHISHA-17.

The B-24s bombs make three direct hits and two near-misses and sink LONDON MARU with the loss of two crewman.

The bombers also sink NAGATA MARU with the loss of seven crewmen, 19 soldiers and 27 passengers, KORYU MARU taking down 43 crewmen and 38 soldiers, and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 3 with the loss of 18 crewmen. They also slightly damage NISSHIN MARU. One B-24 is damaged. Only CH-9 escapes without damage.

Authors' Note:
[1] LONDON MARU was re-requisitioned by the Imperial Army at an unknown date. At the time of her sinking as an A/C-APK she carried IJA No. 5014.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports