RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(MEXICO MARU , prewar)

IJA Transport MEXICO MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2013 Bob Hackett
Revision 4


28 May 1907:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi shipyard as a 6,064-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line.

3 July 1910:
Launched and named MEXICO MARU.

12 October 1910:
Completed. She can accommodate 12 first class and 106 third class passengers.

October 1910:
Departs Hong Kong on her maiden voyage for Tacoma, Washington on OSK’s North American route. She carries export goods and many immigrants to meet North America’s demand for labor.

1920:
Transferred to OSK’s South America route.

1920:
Transferred to OSK’s East African route.

1931:
Transferred to OSK’s Japan ~ Philippines route.

1937: Second Sino – Japanese War.
Chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport.

12-13 August 1937:
Departs Kobe carrying the 3rd Battalion HQ, 3rd Machine-gun Company and the 3rd Battalion Gun Platoon of the IJA 40th Infantry Regiment.

18 August 1937:
Arrives at Arrives at Dagu/Taku (Tanggu)(near Tianjin), China and lands troops.

13 September 1937:
Osaka. MEXICO MARU embarks 346 men and 215 horses of the 1st Battalion HQ, 1st Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment and most of the battalion’s ammunition train and the 3rd Radio Communications Platoon and departs.

18 September 1937:
Arrives at Dagu and unloads.

E 1938:
Released by the IJA back to her owners.

October 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJA as a troop transport.

13 December 1941: Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, MEXICO MARU departs Camhranh Bay in TransDiv 6 also consisting of THAMES, INDIA, RISSHUN and ARABIA MARUs carrying the IJA "Dami Detachment".

16 December 1941:
At 1600, arrives at Kota Bharu, Malaya and begins landing troops.

20 December 1941:
Departs Kota Bharu.

14 December 1942:
MEXICO MARU departs Saeki via Palau for Rabaul in convoy “I” of the No. 8 Military Movement also consisting of CHINZEI, SHINSOKU, TSUKIKAWA and UCHIDE MARUs and DAIGEN MARU No. 3 escorted by subchaser CH-37 and cable layer TSURUSHIMA.

E 15 December 1942:
The escorts are detached at 29N.

E 3 January 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

4 July 1943:
At 0700, MEXICO MARU departs Saeki for Palau escorting convoy O-404 consisting of TAIKO, KAYO and HOZUGAWA MARUs escorted by minesweepers W-17 and W-18. The convoy is carrying troops and equipment of the 51st Army Division.

E 8 July 1943:
W-18 is detached from convoy O-404.

11 July 1943:
At 0758, LtCdr Charles H. Andrews' (USNA ’30) USS GURNARD (SS-254) torpedoes and sinks TAIKO MARU at 12-45N, 131-50E. Two gunners and 10 crewmen are KIA.

13 July 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

24 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

18 August 1943:
MEXICO MARU departs departs Palau for Ujina in convoy FU-806 also consisting of DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU), HOZUGAWA, TOYOKAWA, TOUN and KAYO MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-17.

E 27 August 1943:
At 31-50N, 133-58E, YURIJIMA joins convoy FU-806 then escorted by minesweeper W-17, auxiliary minesweepers TAMA MARU No. 7 and TAMA MARU No. 6 (the latter two from 30-30N, 134-05E).

At 0258, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Bafford E. Lewellen's (USNA ’31) old USS POLLACK (SS-180) makes a visual surface attack on convoy FU-806. Lewellen torpedoes DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU) MARU carrying passengers and ashes of 137 dead. W-17 opens fire on POLLACK, but Lewellen evades and escapes. In the morning, DAIFUKU MARU sinks at 32-28N, 132-23E taking down 14 out of 160 passengers and 14 crewmen.

28 August 1943:
At 0700, arrives at Ujina.

16 September 1943:
MEXICO MARU departs Saeki via Palau for Rabaul in convoy O-608 also consisting of KASHU, MITAKESAN, OSAKA, RYUOSAN, TAMAHOKO, TOUN and TOYOOKA MARUs escorted by torpedo boat SAGI, minelayer YURIJIMA, auxiliary minesweeper TAMA MARU and auxiliary patrol boat SHINKO MARU.

E 17 September 1943:
At 29N all escorts except SAGI are detached.

27 September 1943:
At 1300, arrives at Palau.

3 October 1943:
At 1500, MEXICO MARU departs Palau in a convoy also consisting of KASHU and TOYOOKA MARUs with an unknown escort.

8 October 1943:
About 85 nms N of Manus Island, Admiralties. At 0123, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Norvell G. Ward (USNA ’35) USS GUARDFISH (SS-217) sights the convoy and attacks Army transport KASHU MARU. Ward gets two torpedo hits in her No. 1 and No. 4 holds. At 0140, KASHU MARU sinks at 00-26S, 146-17E. One crewman is KIA.

10 October 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

26 October 1943:
At 1100, MEXICO MARU departs Palau for Saeki in convoy FU-607 also consisting of JUISSEI, KAYO, NANMAN, NISSHU and TOSHO MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-31. [1]

At 30N, minelayers NUWAJIMA and YURIJIMA and auxiliary minesweepers AOI MARU, YACHIYO MARU and TOKUHO MARU No. 10 join the convoy.

27 October 1943:
At about 2200, LtCdr Frank T. Watkins' USS FLYING FISH (SS-229) torpedoes and sinks NANMAN MARU at 12-02N, 134-28E.

28 October 1943:
At 0232, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from PB-31 that reads: “Torpedo attack at 0232, October 28, in position 12-33N, 134-19E.” [2]

4 November 1943:
The convoy arrives at Saeki at 1200.

21 November 1943:
MEXICO MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy No. O-107 also consisting of CEYLON, KAIHO, KAITO, SHOUN, TATSUGIKU and TATSUMATSU MARUs escorted by torpedo boat SAGI, minesweeper W-22 and auxiliary minesweepers TAMA MARU No. 6 and TAISEI MARU. The auxiliary minesweepers are detached at latitude 28N and W-22 at 20N.

8 January 1944:
MEXICO MARU departs Rabaul in convoy O-805 also consisting of CEYLON, KOYO, NAGISAN and PACIFIC MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-17 and CH-18.

15 January 1944:
At 1230, the convoy arrives at Palau.

23 January 1944:
At 0830, MEXICO MARU departs Palau for Wewak, Dutch New Guinea in convoy "Wewak No. 18" also consisting of KAYO and KOFUKU MARUs escorted by destroyer SHIRANUHI, minelayer SHIRATAKA and subchaser CH-3

28 January 1944:
Immediately prior to arrival, SHIRATAKA is detached to nearby Kairiru Island to unload troops. Convoy "Wewak No. 18" arrives at Wewak.

7 March 1944:
MEXICO MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMO-08 also consisting of ADEN, MITSUKI, MIZUHO, TONEGAWA, and WAZAN MARUs and three unidentified merchants escorted by destroyers HASA and TSUGA and minelayer NIIZAKI.

8 March 1944:
Arrives at Kirun (Keelung).

13 March 1944:
Departs Kirun. The convoy splits into two parts after departing port.

17 March 1944:
The first part arrives at Moji.

18 March 1944:
The second part arrives at Moji.

24 May 1944:
At 1900, MEXICO MARU departs Miri for Singapore in convoy MISHI-02 also consisting of IMAHARU and IIDA MARUs and NANSHIN MARU No. 2 and NANSHIN MARU No. 6 escorted by minesweeper W-18 and auxiliary minesweeper CHOUN MARU No. 7. En route, CD-8, CD-1, and CD-20 also join the escort.

29 May 1944:
At 1252, arrives at Singapore.

4 July 1944:
MEXICO MARU departs Singapore for Miri, Borneo in convoy SHIMI-05 also consisting of ASAKA, HAKUSHIKA (HAKUROKU), HOFUKU, KUROGANE, OLYMPIA, RASHIN, SAN DIEGO and TATSUBATO MARUs and KYOEI MARU No. 6 escorted by torpedo boat SAGI and minesweepers W-17 and W-18.

8 July 1944:
At 1842, arrives at Miri, Borneo. Loads a cargo of oil.

10 July 1944:
At 1550, MEXICO MARU departs Miri for Moji in convoy MI-08 also consisting of ASAKA, OLYMPIA, RASHIN, SAN DIEGO HAKUSHIKA (HAKUROKU), TATSUBATO, KUROGANE MARUs and tankers SAN LUIS, NITTETSU, OEI, TAKETSU (BUTSU), CHIHAYA, RYUSHO and SANKO (YAMAKO) MARUs and KYOEI MARU No. 6 escorted by torpedo-boat SAGI and minesweepers W-17 and W-18.

11 July 1944:
At 1830, the convoy anchors in Kimanis Bay, SW of Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.

12 July 1944:
At 1300, the convoy departs Kimanis Bay. At 1015, TAKETSU MARU is detached and begins a return journey to Miri.

16 July 1944:
From 0820 until 1400, the convoy is accompanied by torpedo-boat HIYODORI and coast defense ship MIKURA. At 2035, the convoy arrives safely at Manila.

15 August 1944:
At 0550, MEXICO MARU departs Manila in convoy H-33 (part 1) also consisting of CHINEZI, HAVRE, HACHIJIN, KUNIYAMA, OLYMPIA, MISAKI, TOYO and IWASHIRO MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-28 and subchaser CH-46

17 August 1944:
Arrives at Cebu.

18 August 1944:
At 1830, MEXICO MARU departs Cebu in convoy H-33 (stage 2) also consisting of HACHIJIN, HAVRE and KOKUZAN MARUs escorted by patrol boat P-105, minesweeper W-28 and subchaser CH-46.

21 August 1944:
Arrives at Zamboanga, Mindanao. At 0850 (JST), MEXICO MARU departs Zamboanga for Jolo, P.I. in convoy H-33 (stage 3) also consisting of HAVRE MARU escorted by patrol boat P-105, minesweeper W-28 and subchasers CH-31 and CH-46. MEXICO and HAVRE MARUs anchor overnight at Jolo Anchorage.

22 August 1944:
At 0525 (JST) convoy H-33 weighs anchor and set a southern course to Tolitoli, north coast of Celebes.

23 August 1944:
70 nautical miles SSE of Jolo island. At 0005 (JST), HAVRE MARU, suddenly suffers a bent propeller shaft and becomes unnavigable at 04-42N, 121-42E. MEXICO MARU attempts to take HAVRE MARU in tow, but the towing line breaks.

24 August 1944:
Therafter, HAVRE MARU is taken in tow by PB-105 and towed back to Jolo Anchorage at 5 knots, escorted by CH-31. At 1045 (JST), arrives at Jolo.

27 August 1944:
At 0625, MEXICO MARU departs Jolo in convoy H-33 (part 4) also consisting of HAVRE MARU en route to Menado escorted by patrol boat P-105, minesweeper W-28 and subchasers CH-31 and CH-46.

MEXICO MARU is carrying 4,020 men including the 372nd Independent Infantry Battalion, 57th Independent Mixed Brigade, 375th Independent Infantry Battalion, 57th Independent Mixed Brigade, 377th Independent Infantry Battalion, 57th Independent Mixed Brigade, 100th Independent Wire Company, en route to 2nd Army 5th Airfield Battalion en route to the 7th Air Division, replacements for or elements of he 24th Signal Regiment en route to 2nd Army and 328 replacements for the 26th Signal Regiment, elements of or replacements for the 20th Field Ordnance Depot and 27th Field Motor Depot, en route to the 2nd and 19th Army respectively, 2nd Navigational Aid Regiment, and possibly the 2nd Field Motor Depot en route to 2nd Army, 88th Casualty Clearing Platoon en route to 19th Army, 4th Shipping Engineer Regiment en route to the 2nd Army and the 12th Shipping Command en route to the 2nd Army. She also carries 1,000 tons of coal, 3,246 tons of general goods, 1,600 tons of rice, 1,000 cans of heavy oil or concentrated sulphuric acid, 103 cans of gasoline, 200 tons of coal, 8 tons of yellow gunpowder, 1,000 tons of clothing and 19 motor vehicles.

29 August 1944:
At 0225, LtCdr (later Captain) Arthur E. Krapf's (USNA ’34) USS JACK (SS-259) torpedoes MEXICO MARU and gets a hit in her No. 1 hold where the gasoline and oil drums are stowed. MEXICO MARU erupts in a ball of flames that envelop the ship. She settles in the water and sinks at 02-15N 122-29E. PB-105 assists in the rescue. Sailors haul the exhausted men from the water. Captain Ando Junichi, 21 seamen and 3,125 soldiers are rescued, but 825 Troops, a gunner and 21 crewmen are KIA. Patrol Boat-105 accommodates a nearly unbelievable load of 1,609 survivors. Subchasers CH-46 and CH-31 pull aboard 935 and 760 oil-soaked men respectively.

LtCdr Krapf launches a second attack and also sinks minesweeper W-28.


Author's Notes:
[1] Convoy FU-607's ship names are from research by Erich Muehlthaler and Peter Cundall. JUISSEI MARU is shown in most Western texts as HOSHI MARU No. 11.

[2] According to COMSUBPAC's SORG Report, the attack was conducted by LtCdr Frank T. Watkins' USS FLYING FISH (SS-229) that sank coastal oiler KORYO MARU at about 0200 in the Philippine Sea at 12-02N, 137-28E.

No data were found detailing MEXICO MARU's movements for most of 1942. Readers with access to such data are requested to post the information on the Discussion and Questions board or j-aircraft.org's IJN Ship Message Board

Thanks go to Alan Alsleben of Oregon and John Whitman of Virginia. Thanks again go to Erich Muehlthaler for info in Rev 1 and John Whitman for info in Rev 3.

Bob Hackett


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