RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

MELBOURNE MARU, prewar)

IJA Transport MELBOURNE MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett


12 June 1929:
Yokohama. Laid down at Yokohama Dock Co. as a 5,423-ton passenger cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Kobe.

15 December 1929:
Launched and named MELBOURNE MARU. She is built to transport Australian wool to Japan.

28 March 1930:
Completed. She can accommodate six 1st class passengers and carries a crew of 47.

1 June 1932:
MELBOURNE MARU makes a record passage from Brisbane, Australia to Hong Kong.

1932:
Enters Yokkaichi Port as the first liner carrying raw wool from Australia.

17 May 1933:
Departs Brisbane for southern Australian ports.

August 1932:
E coast of China. MELBOURNE MARU experiencies heavy gales that last two and a half days. The storm gradually increases in intensity until it develops into a typhoon. Hatches are battened down. The ship is unable to make any progress against the high sesa.

Arafura Sea. MELBOURNE MARU runs into a tropical monsoon and suffers severe buffeting for 24 hours.

25 August 1932:
Arrives at Sydney, Australia. MELBOURNE MARUís cargo includes a consignment of 1,680 black and red koi (goldfish) from Kobe carried in a number of flat pans laid out on the boat deck. About 1,000 of the fish are for Japanese merchants in Sydney.

1930 ~ 1936:
In service on OSK's Yokohama ~ Sydney ~ Melbourne, Australia route.

1936 ~ 1938:
Transferred to the Yokohama ~ New Zealand route.

14 July 1938:
Transferred to OSK's Yokohama ~ Bombay, India route.

25 December 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 911.

4 October 1942:
At 0630, departs Sasebo escorted by minelayer TAKASHIMA.

6 October 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

18 December 1942:
At 0250, MELBOURNE MARU departs Otaru, Hokkaido for Kiska, Aleutians in a convoy also consisting of TOEI MARU escorted by destroyer USUGUMO.

E 21 December 1942:
The convoy arrives at Paramushiro, Kuriles.

E 11 January 1943:
The convoy departs Paramushiro. After departure, TOEI MARU falls behind for unknown reasons.

17 January 1943:
At 0210, the convoy arrives at NW Kiska, followed by TOEI MARU arriving at 0500. Unloading begins immediately.

19 January 1943:
At 0610 and again at 1830, the convoy is attacked by USAAF aircraft. One gunner is wounded.

23 January 1943:
All unloading is completed. At 1120, both ships raise anchors and depart in heavy rain.

27 January 1943:
At 0715, the convoy arrives at Kashiwabara Bay, Paramushiro.

27 May 1943:
Departs Otaru, Hokkaido in a convoy also consisting of IJA transports SANKO and FUSHIMI MARUs and IJN SHINRYU MARU escorted by two unidentified subchasers.

30 May 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

E 30 May-3 June 1943:
Unloads cargo.

3 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro with transport IJN SHINRYU MARU.

6 June 1943:
Arrives at Otaru.

10 June 1943:
Departs Otaru in a convoy also consisting of IJA transports SANKO and FUSHIMI MARUs and IJN SHINRYU MARU escorted by two unidentified ships.

13 June 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

E 13-17 June 1943:
Unloads cargo.

17 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro in a convoy also consisting of IJA transports SANKO and FUSHIMI MARUs and IJN SHINRYU MARU escorted by two unidentified ships.

20 June 1943:
Arrives at Otaru.

8 July 1943:
At 1900, MELBOURNE MARU departs Otaru for Odomari, Karafuto in a convoy also consisting of FUSHIMI MARU and IJN SHINRYU MARU escorted by kaibokan ISHIGAKI.

9 July 1943:
At 1800, arrives at Odomari and remains because of typhoon warnings.

23 July 1943:
At 1700, departs Otaru in a convoy also consisting of ammunition ship SOYA with an unknown escort.

28 July 1943:
At 0900, arrives at Matsuwa Island, Kuriles.

31 July 1943:
Still in convoy, departs Matsuwa Island.

2 August 1943:
At 2100, arrives at Otaru.

E 1 March 1944:
MELBOURNE MARU departs Pusan, Korea carrying elements of the 7th Independent Garrison Infantry Battalion.

E 2 March 1944:
Arrives at Hakata, Kyushu.

E 3 March 1944:
Arrives at Ominato and departs.

3 March 1944:
Arrives at Otaru.

10 March 1944:
Departs Otaru.

16 April 1944:
Arrives at Onekotan, Kuriles.

26 October 1944:
At 1730, departs Mutsure in convoy HI-79 also consisting of transports KAGU, and ARIMASAN MARUs and tankers TENEI and MATSUSHIMA MARUs and fleet stores ship MAMIYA. The ships initially are escorted by light cruiser KASHII, kaibokan NOMI, UKURU and minelayer NIIZAKI.

27 October 1944:
Kaibokan CD-17 joins the escort.

28 October 1944:
W-21 joins the escort.

29 October 1944:
MELBOURNE MARU is detached for Keelung escorted by UKURU and CD-17.

16 November 1944:
At 0600, departs Keelung for Moji in convoy TAMO-29 also consisting of SHUYO and FUKUJU MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan CD-20 and CD-39 and subchaser CH-61.

23 November 1944:
At 0348, LtCdr (later Cdr) Evan T. Shepardís (USNA í35) USS PICUDA (SS-382) torpedoes and sinks SHUYO MARU at 34-14N, 128-28E. 60 passengers and 25 crewmen are killed. At 0845, after tracking the convoy and making an "end-around", Shepard torpedoes and sinks FUKUJU MARU at 34-10N, 128-58E. 28 of the crew are killed. The escorts counter-attack and drop 23 depth charges on USS PICUDA, but she escapes undamaged.

24 November 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

23 December 1944:
Departs Moji for Takao in convoy MOTA-29 also consisting of DAIHO MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-26, CD-60 and CD-205. Enroute, CD-26 is detached and heads back to Sasebo. The transports are carrying troops of the IJAís 19th Infantry Division. [1]

31 December 1944:
Arrives at Takao. Disembarks troops.

3 January 1945:
MELBOURNE MARU departs Takao.

8 January 1945:
Returns to Takao for engine troubles.

13 January 1945:
Takao. About 500 Allied prisoners-of-war (POWs) that arrived at Takao on 24 Oct'44 on HOKUSEN MARU, plus some survivors of the ARISAN MARU, board MELBOURNE MARU. She also carries about 20 British survivors of the Manila to Takao segments of ORYOKU, ENOURA and BRAZIL MARUs' voyages.

14 January 1945:
Departs Takao in convoy TAMO-37 also consisting of DAIHO, DAII, BRAZIL, OEI (possibly TOEI) and DAIIKU MARUs and HOSHI MARU No. 11 escorted by destroyer ASAGAO, kaibokan YASHIRO, CD-1, CD-36, CD-130 and CD-134 and minesweeper W-21. BRAZIL MARU is carrying about 900 Allied POWs. [3]

16 January 1945:
At 1800, DAIHO MARU suffers an engine breakdown and the ships temporarily anchor.

17 January 1945:
At 0530, departs anchorage. At 1626, anchors temporarily. BRAZIL MARU sets up a towline with DAII MARU. damaged in collision with tanker DAIHO MARU. When the convoy resumes its journey, she tows DAII MARU.

19 January 1945:
At 1900, arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan.

20 January 1945:
At 0708, departs Ssu Chiao Shan less BRAZIL MARU that probably remains for engine repairs. [3]

23 January 1945:
At 1610, CD-130 drops depth charges on a suspected submarine contact without results. At 1750, CD-134 also attacks a suspected submarine contact. At 2015, the convoy arrives at Mutsure. One POW dies during the nine-day voyage.

12 February 1945:
At 2200, MELBOURNE MARU departs Moji for Keelung in convoy MOTA-36 also consisting of NISSHO MARU escorted by light cruiser KASHIMA, destroyer SAKURA, kaibokan CD-14 and CD-16.

16 February 1945:
KASHIMA and destroyer SAKURA are detached for Shanghai, China.

18 February 1945:
Arrives at Keelung.

22 February 1945:
At 2200, MELBOURNE MARU departs Keelung for Moji in convoy TAMO-44 also consisting of NISSHO and KIYOKAWA MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-14, CD-16 and CD-46. That same day, MELBOURNE MARU hits a mine. She is detached back to Keelung escorted by CD-46.

E August 1945:
Departs Maizuru for Rajin, N Korea.

8 August 1945:
Moscow. The Soviet Union declares that from 9 August 1945, the Soviet Government will consider itself to be at war with Japan. CD-82 departs Genzan, Korea (now Wonsan), to rescue the survivors from RASHIN MARU, torpedoed by USS PARGO (SS-264).

9 August 1945:
Carrying out Stalin's pledge at Yalta, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, CINC, Soviet Far East Forces, launches Operation "August Storm", the invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria (Manchukuo). The attack is made by three Soviet army groups ("fronts") comprising 80 divisions of 1.5 million men.

Rajin, Chosen (now Rashon, N Korea). While loading soy beans and dried codfish, MELBOURNE MARU is attacked by two Soviet bombers, probably Ilyushin IL-4ís. She is hit by a bomb that explodes stored munitions and later sinks. 25 crewmen are KIA, but 35 seamen survive. [2]

Nagasaki. That same day, the CO of the 393rd Bomb Squadron of the 509th Composite Group, Major (later Brig Gen, ANG) Charles W. Sweeney, piloting a B-29 named "BOCKSCAR", drops "Fat Man", the second atomic bomb.


Authorsí Notes:
[1] Some sources indicate that CD-112 was in the escort, not CD-26.

[2] On 2 Sep í45, after Japanís surrender, MELBOURNE MARUís survivors and some soldiers depart Pusan, S Korea for Japan on an Army tug, but as it leaves the harbor, it strikes a mine and 22 seamen are killed.

[3] Thanks go to Peter Cundall for info about DAIHO (not DAIKO) and OEI (possibly TOEI) MARUs, TAMO-37's escorts and BRAZIL MARU's engine problems.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett


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