RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(MATSUKAWA MARU, prewar)

IJN/IJA MATSUKAWA MARU :
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 - 2016 Bob Hackett


31 January 1938:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Zosensho, K. K. as Yard No. 631, a 3,825-ton cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen (“K” Line), K. K.

30 May 1938:
Launched and named MATSUKAWA MARU. [1]

11 November 1938:
Completed. Placed in “K” Line’s service.

20 February 1939:
MATSUKAWA MARU is requisitioned by the Imperial Navy (IJN) as an Ippan Choyosen (B-AK)

20 September 1939:
Returned by the IJN back to her owners.

28 November 1941:
MATSUKAWA MARU is requisitioned by the IJA and assigned as troopship No. 976.

7 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Southern Philippines:
At 1630, MATSUKAWA MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Aparri, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hara Kensaburo's (37)(former CO of TAKAO) Fourth Surprise Attack Force with IJA transports AKIURA, ARIZONA KAZAUURA, and YUZAN MARUs.

The transports carry Col Tanaka’s 1st Raiding Force Detachment consisting of two companies of the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Formosan Infantry Regiment, 48th Division. Other units transported are the 11th IJAAF regiment, elements of the 28th and 40th Ground Support Airbases (Battalion size), one company of the 9th Ground Support Depot Airbase, the 40th AA Detachment, the 123th, 297th and 298th truck companies, the 56th Labor Construction Company, two Aviation Signal Air Defense detachments and one Weather Aviation Meteorological company.

Hara’s force is escorted by DesRon 5’s light cruiser NATORI (F), DesDiv 5's ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE, MATSUKAZE and HATAKAZE and DesDiv 22 ’s FUMIZUKI, MINIZUKI, NAGATSUKI and SATSUKI, minesweepers W-15, W-16 and W-19 and subchasers CH-1, Ch-2, Ch-3, CH-14 and CH-15.

10 December 1941:
At 0550, the invasion unit arrives off Aparri, N Luzon, Philippines and begins to land troops of the IJA 48th Infantry Division. The invasion unit's objective is the capture of the airfield at Vigan. NATORI provides fire support, bombarding the shoreline.

The landing force is attacked by three Army Air Force B-17 bombers of the 14th Squadron including one piloted by Captain Colin Kelly. They drop 600-lb and 100-lb bombs. NATORI evades the first bomb attacks, but receives a near-miss off her port side when she attempts to approach minesweeper W-19 of No. 2 Base Force. W-19 is hit, grounded and then given up as a total loss. DesDiv 5's HARUKAZE is also damaged slightly by near misses.

13 December 1941:
Departs Aparri.

16 December 1941:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

22 April 1943:
MATSUKAWA MARU departs Surabaya (Tandjung Perak, Harbor) for Ambon in a convoy consisting of AMAGI, KUNITAMA and NISHI and MAYAHASHI, both bound for for Liang, Ambon escorted by two unidentified warships. Together MATSUKAWA and AMAGI MARU transport 2061 POW’s (1716 British Royal Air Force and 345 Dutch). KUNITAMA MARU carries 1,071 mostly Dutch POWs. The transports also carry bombs, ammunition and drummed AvGas and foodstuffs.

29 April 1943:
Arrives at Ambon, Ceram, Moluccas. The POWs are forced to unload the cargo.

30 April 1943:
The convoy arrives at Amahai, S. Ceram. KUNITAMA MARU debarks her POWs. 8 POWs died en route. The other POWs are again forced to unload cargo for the next three days. The POWs are to be slave labor in the construction and expansion of airfields.

5 May 1943:
The convoy departs Amahai and later that day arrives at Haruku (Haroekoe) island. The POWs are to be slave labor in the construction and expansion of airfields. 25 March 1944: MATSUKAWA MARU departs Singapore for Port Blair, Andaman Islands in a convoy also consisting of cargo ship KONAN MARU No. 1 escorted by minelayer Ma-4, subchaser CH-7 and auxiliary submarine chaser CHa-59.

26-27 March 1944:
The convoy arrives at Pangkor, then Penang, Malaya. CH-7 is detached to return to Singapore. At some point minesweeper W-7 the joins convoy.

2 April 1944:
Arrives at Penang.

3 April 1944:
Departs Penang.

8 April 1944:
Arrives at Penang.

9 April 1944:
Departs Penang.

14 April 1944:
Indian Ocean. Arrives at Port Blair, Andaman Islands. Unloads.

23 June 1944
Kega Point, Vichy French Indochina. MATSUKAWA MARU strikes a mine at 13-34N, 109-18E and suffers damage.

25 June 1944:
At 1240, MATSUKAWA MARU departs Saigon, Vichy French Indochina in convoy SAMA-08 also consisting of MAYA and YAMABUKI MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-19 and CH-43. MATSUKAWA MARU is loaded with brown rice.

26 June 1944:
Off Nha Trang Bay, Vichy French, Indochina, TSURUSHIMA MARU joins the convoy.

30 June 1944:
Off Manila Bay. At 0312, LtCdr (later Captain) Arthur E. Krapf's (USNA ’34) USS JACK (SS-259) torpedoes and sinks TSURUSHIMA MARU at 14-15N, 119-40E. 44 crewmen, 18 gunners and 15 of her 330 passengers are KIA.

The convoy scatters, but at 0422, JACK torpedoes and sinks MATSUKAWA MARU at 14-25N, 119-45E. Two crewmen, five gunners, 15 soldiers and nine passengers are KIA.


Author's Note:
[1] Also known as MATSUGAWA MARU and to POWs as CHO SAKI MARU.

Thanks go to Erich Muethlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett


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