(SHOKA MARU prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2013 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 1

29 November 1934:
Nagasaki. Laid down by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. Zosensho shipyard for Osaka Shosen K.K., Osaka.

31 August 1935:
Launched and named SHOKA MARU. [1]

15 November 1935:
Completed and registered at Osaka.

E 1935:
Placed on O.S.K.’s Tokyo ~ Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan) service to transport bananas from Formosa to Japan.

July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The"First China Incident") Incident:
Hun River. Japanese troops fire blank cartridges during night maneuvers at the Marco Polo Bridge. Chinese troops across the river fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese have captured him. The Japanese demand entry to the Beijing suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese shell the city and an undeclared war on China begins.

E 1938:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army with allotted number No. 678.

E 1939:
Released to her owners.

7 August 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN as a transport (Ippan Choyosen). [2].

E August 1941:
Departs Sasebo to operate in the South Seas area (Japan mandated islands).

16 August 1941:
Arrives in the South Seas area.

4 September 1941:
Departs the South Seas area.

E September 1941:
Arrives at Furue, Hyuga Nada (sea), Japan. Departs later and arrives at Sasebo at an unknown date.

E September 1941:
Departs Sasebo for the South Seas area.

20 September 1941:
Arrives in the South Seas area. That same day, SHOKA MARU is registered in the IJN under internal order No. 1093 and attached to the Sasebo Naval District as an auxiliary transport, (Otsu) category. Her home port is Sasebo. [3].

25 September 1941:
Departs the South Seas area.

E September 1941:
Arrives at Takao. Departs later for the South Seas area.

29 September 1941:
Arrives in the South Seas area.

19 October 1941:
Departs the South Seas area.

E October 1941:
Arrives at Takao. Departs later and arrives at Sasebo at an unknown date.

E November 1941:
Departs Sasebo and arrives at Yokohama at an unknown date to start her conversion for military duty.

1 December 1941:
Yokohama. The conversion is completed at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries K.K. shipyard.

17 December 1941:
Departs Sasebo.

23 December 1941:
Arrives at Palau, Western Carolines.

29 December 1941:
Departs Palau for Malalag, Davao Gulf, Mindanao Island, Philippines.

31 December 1941:
Arrives at Malalag. Departs later arriving that same day at Davao.

7 January 1942:
At 0335 departs Davao. At 0720 arrives at Magnaga Bay, NE Davao Gulf.

9 January 1942: Operation "H" - The Invasion of Celebes, Netherlands East Indies:
The invasion convoy unit consists of IJN transports SHOKA, KINAI, NANKAI, HOKUROKU, KATSURAGI, KOSHIN, CHOWA and AMAGISAN MARUs, carrying Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunizo (40)'s (former CO of SATA) Sasebo No. 1 and 2 Combined SNLF of about 2,500 men. The transports are accompanied by supply ships SHINKO (545 GRT) and OHA MARU (future IJN KURESAKI).

The convoy is escorted by MineSweepDiv 21's W-7, W-8, W-9, W-11 and W-12 in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji (38)'s 1st Base Force with light cruiser NAGARA, SubChasDiv 1's CH-1, CH-2 and CH-3 and patrol boats P-1, P-2, P-34.

NE Davao Gulf, Mindanao, Philippines. The convoy is assembled in Magnaga Bay in two echelons:

At 0100, the first echelon departs consisting of SHOKA, KOSHIN and CHOWA MARUs, accompanied by SHINKO and OHA MARUs at nine knots speed of avance.

At 1000, the second echelon departs consisting of NANKAI, KINAI, HOKUROKU, AMAGISAN and KATSURAGI MARUs at 12 knots speed of advance.

11 January 1942:
At 0110, the Menado occupation force of SHOKA, NANKAI, KINAI, KOSHIN, CHOWA and AMAGISAN MARUs arrives at No.1 landing operation floating anchorage (Menado Roadstead) and prepares for landing troops N and S of Menado port. At 0315, the first landing forces depart transports and land at 0400.

NE coast of Minahasa Peninsula (SE of Menado). At 0130, the Kema occupation force, of HOKUROKU and KATSURAGI MARUs arrives at No.1 landing operation floating anchorage (small port of Kema Roadstead). At 0345, the first landing troops depart transports and land at 0420.

Later, 334 men of Cdr (later Captain) Horiuchi Toyoaki's (50) (later XO of TAKAO) Yokosuka No. 1 SNLF (Air) are dropped successfully from Mitsubishi G3M1-L Nell converted transport aircraft in the Menado-Kema area. The paratroops seize Langoan airfield.

At 1540, AMAGISAN MARU receives slight damage by a near miss during an attack by three Dutch aircraft.

20 January 1942:
At 0915 SHOKA MARU departs Menado.

27 January 1942:
At 1530 arrives at Kirun, Formosa (now Keelung, Taiwan).

28 January 1942:
At 1625 departs Kirun for Sasebo.

31 January 1942:
At 1220 arrives at Sasebo.

1 February 1942:
Departs Sasebo for Moji.

2 February 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

5 February 1942:
Departs Moji for Yokohama.

7 February 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

10 February 1942:
Departs Yokohama arriving that same day at Tokyo.

15 February 1942:
Departs Tokyo for Yokosuka.

16 February 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

17 February 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk, Central Carolines in a convoy also consisting of auxiliary transports AZUMASAN, CHOWA and AKIBASAN MARUs.

25 February 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

21 March 1942:
Departs Truk for Rabaul, New Britain in a convoy also consisting of auxiliary transports AZUMASAN, CHOWA and AKIBASAN MARUs.

26 March 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

6 April 1942:
Simpson Harbor, Rabaul. SHOKA MARU is bombed and damaged by an airstrike from USAAF 19th Bsq, 22nd Bombardment Group consisting of six Martin B-26 “Marauders”. [4]

(Martin B-26 Marauder)

10 April 1942:
Removed from the Navy List under internal order No. 662.

15 April 1942:
Requisitioned by the IJN as a transport (Ippan Choyosen). [2]

22 April 1942:
While in preparation of forthcoming “R” operation under secret military order No. 10, SHOKA MARU is again lightly damaged by an airstrike.

4 May 1942: Operation “MO” – The Invasions of Tulagi and Port Moresby:
At 1600, Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39) (former CO of KISO) Port Moresby Attack Force departs Rabaul towards the Jomard Pass in the Louisiade Archipelago with DesRon 6’s light cruiser YUBARI, DesDiv 29’s OITE, ASANAGI, DesDiv 30’s MUTSUKI, MOCHIZUKI and YAYOI escorting Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Abe Koso's (40) (former CO of HIEI) Transport Force of IJN SHOKA, MOGAMIGAWA, GOYO, AKIBASAN and CHOWA MARUs and IJA MATSUE, TAIFUKU, MITO, CHINA and HIBI MARUs, tanker HOYO MARU, fleet oiler IRO (at anchor at Shortland area with destroyer UZUKI), minelayer TSUGARU, minesweeper W-20, auxiliary minesweepers HAGOROMO MARU, NOSHIRO MARU No. 2 and FUMI MARU No. 2 and fleet salvage and repair tug OJIMA (OSHIMA). The convoy’s cruising speed only is 6.5 knots.

IJA transport ASAKASAN MARU is delayed at Rabaul. The Transport Force is carrying the bulk of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), the 10th Naval Construction Unit and the South Seas Detachment consisting of the 144th Infantry Regiment.

4 May 1942:The Battle of the Coral Sea:
Tulagi, Solomons. Rear Admiral (MOH '14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (USNA ’06) (former CO of USS VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 17 attacks Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide’s (39) (former CO of OI) Tulagi Invasion Force. SBD dive-bombers and TBD torpedo-bombers from USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) sink a destroyer, three minesweepers and damage four other ships.

5 May 1942:
At 1600, ASAKASAN MARU departs Rabaul and chases after the Transport Force.

Fletcher's force turns north to engage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo’s (39) (former CO of MUTSU) Carrier Strike Force's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU. SBDs and TBDs from USS YORKTOWN and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2) sink Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo’s (38) (former CO of MUTSU) light carrier SHOHO off Misima Island. In turn, Japanese planes damage oiler USS NEOSHO (AO-23) and sink destroyer USS SIMS (DD-409).

6 May 1942:
At 2200, ASAKASAN MARU finally rejoins the Transport Force.

8 May 1942:
Planes from the USS LEXINGTON sight Takagi's Strike Force. SBDs from YORKTOWN and USS LEXINGTON damage SHOKAKU and force her retirement. ZUIKAKU’s air group suffers heavy losses. Takagi's bombers and attack planes strike Task Force 17 and damage USS YORKTOWN and USS LEXINGTON. Gasoline vapors ignite, triggering massive explosions that cause USS LEXINGTON to be abandoned. Later, she is scuttled by destroyer USS PHELPS (DD-360).

9 May 1942:
After order was given to the Transport Force to reverse its course, SHOKA MARU arrives back at Rabaul.

13 May 1942:
The Battle of the Coral Sea halts the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and they are forced to cancel Operation MO.

22 May 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Moji in convoy also consisting of auxiliary transports CHOWA and AKIBASAN MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-20.

24 May 1942:
At 0900 on the equator the convoy splits in two parts. W-20 returns to Rabaul. SHOKA MARU proceeds independently. It is intended an escort will meet her near Mereyon-To.

25 May 1942:
About 190 nms S Woleai Atoll (Mereyon-To), Carolines. LtCdr (later Cdr) Joseph H. Willingham’s (USNA ‘26) USS TAUTOG (SS-199) sights the lone ship. At 1835, Willingham torpedoes and hits SHOKA MARU. The first torpedo hits the bow but fails to detonate; the second strikes on the portside, forward. At 1840, SHOKA MARU sinks by the stern. Only two men are KIA. 63 survivors board the ship’s boats.

26 May 1942
With no sign of a rescue ship the survivors erect a makeshift sail and begin sailing the boats in search of an island.

9 June 1942:
All survivors but one man land at Faraulep Island (07-20N, 143-50E) and are later rescued by the garrison from Woleai.

12 June 1942
Survivors are landed at Angaur, Palaus.

21 June 1942
Survivors are landed at Osaka.

1 July 1942:
Removed from the Ippan Choyosen (IJN generally requisitioned ships) list.

Authors Notes:
[1] Not to be confused with Towa Kisen’s (1931 GRT ’17) or Shofuku Kisen’s (1354 GRT ’40).
[2] See Zatsuyosen home page for full explanation.
[3] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.
[4] The air strike marked the first combat action of the Martin B-26 “Marauder”. Five out of six aircraft returned safely to Seven Mile airfield, Port Moresby, New Guinea. The last one ditched nearby Woodlark Island. The flight engineer, Staff Sgt. Samuel K. Bourne never surfaced, but the rest of the crew reached dry land and was later rescued by a RAAF 11th Squadron, Consolidated PBY “Catalina”.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan and to Eric Muehlthaler of Germany.

-Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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