RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(BARON POLWARTH (later SHUNSEI MARU )

SHUNSEI MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

2017 Bob Hackett


E 1909:
Glasgow, Scotland. Laid down at Napier & Miller Ltd as Yard No. 171, a 4,910 ton cargo ship for Hugh Hogarth & Sons Ltd. (Iberia Shipping, Kelvin Shipping, Hogarth Shipping), Glasgow. [1]

17 August 1936:
Launched and named BARON POLWARTH.

1911:
Completed.

1925:
Sold to Yamamoto Shoji K. K., Osaka. Renamed SHUNSEI MARU

6 February 1931:
13 miles north of Point Cloates. During the early hours cargo ship SHUNSEI MARU, enroute from Nanking to Fremantle, strikes a reef and is stranded. MEIGEN MARU enroute from Shanghai and MIHO MARU enroute from Port Adelaide, Australia for Shanghai receive orders to approach and offer assistance.

14 February 1931:
After viewing the disaster scene, it is considered too dangerous for the marus to approach SHUNSEI MARU to render assistance. Both ships depart the area to continue their voyages.

March 1931:
A west Australian tug arrives, refloats SHUNSEI MARU and assists her to safety.

July 1937:
The Second Sino-Japanese War begins. SHUNSEI MARU MARU is chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop ship.

3 November 1937:
SHUNSEI MARU departs the Goto Islands in a convoy also consisting of ALASKA, BUZEN, ENGLAND, GYOKOH, HAKODATE, INDUS, KAISHO, KOSHIN, MINAMOTO, SANDAI. SHINTAN, SHOKYU, SUEZ, TOKUSHIMA and ZENOAH MARUs escorted by destroyer YUZUKI.

5 November 1937:
Arrives at Hangzhou Bay, an inlet of the East China Sea, lies south of Shanghai and ends at the city of Hangzhou. Stands by for five days because of faulty landing craft.

10 November 1937: The Invasion of Hangzhou Bay:
East China Sea. The 1st Squad of the invasion convoy consists of transports SHUNSEI, ALASKA, BUZEN, ENGLAND, GYOKO, HAKODATE, INDUS, KAISHO, KOSHIN, MINAMOTO, SANDAI. SHINTAN, SHOKYU, SUEZ, TOKUSHIMA and ZENOAH MARUs led by destroyer YUZUKI.

The 2nd Squad is consists of transports BEIJING, FUSHIMI, HORAI, JUYO, KARAFUTO, KURETAKE, MEIKO, SHINYO, SHIN YUBARI, SHINSEI, TAIAN and YAMATO MARUs led by destroyer MIKAZUKI.

The 3rd Squad consists of transports DAIMON, ETO, FUKUSHO HAKUSHIKA, KANKO, MALACCA, NAVEL, OIRDONO, SHINAI, SHUKI and TASMANIA MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 1 led by destroyer MOCHIZUKI .

15 November 1937:
Arrives at Hangzhou Bay and lands troops.

11 November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and allotted Army No. 58.

19 March 1942:
A convoy of 43 transports departs Singapore carrying the IJA's 56th Infantry Division. The convoy consists of SHUNSEI, YAE, KOAN, TATEISHI, HAVRE (5467 grt), HIBURI, HOKUMEI, YAMAZUKI, GLASGOW, SYDNEY, SHINANOGAWA, AOBASAN, KAZUURA, KIZAN, KUSUYAMA, KOTOHIRA, SANKO, SAKITO, SHINAI, SHINRYU, SUMATRA, GENOA, TSUYAMA, TOKIWA, NAKO, NAGARA, NICHIRAN, NAPLES, HARUNA (10420 grt), HOFUKU, MYOKO (4103 grt), ATLAS, CALCUTTA, KUWAYAMA, MEIGEN, KYUSHU, and MOMOYAMA MARUs and six unidentified merchant ships.

The convoy is escorted by the No. 2 Escort Unit comprised of light cruiser KASHII (F), escort SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA, destroyers of DesRon 3 and 5, MineSweepDiv 1's W-1, W-3 and W-4 and SubChasDiv 91's CHOKO MARU and SHONAN MARU Nos. 5 and 7 and the 9th Base Force's gunboat EIKO MARU. Because of size and differing ship speeds the convoy is broken into sections.

20 March 1942: Operation D The Seizure of the Andaman Islands.
At 0800, minesweeper W-4 departs Penang, Malaya. Later, she sweeps for mines in the Andaman Islands area in support of the invasion landings.

23 March 1942:
At 0200, arrives at Port Blair, Andamans.

25 March 1942: Operation U The Seizure of Rangoon, Burma.
The transports begin landing troops at Rangoon (Yangon, Myanmar).

28 March 1942:
Arrives at Penang.

30 March 1942:
Departs Penang.

1 April 1942:
Strait of Malacca. Off Pulau Perak, Malaya. Empty transports SHUNSEI and YAE MARU are torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy Lt Cdr Hugh A.V. Haggard's submarine HMS TRUANT. and two crewmwn on SHUNSEI MARU are KIA and two gunners and four crewmen of YAE MARU. HMS TRUANT escapes a counterattack by the escort. The remaining transports arrive at Singapore later that day.


Author's Note:
[1] Some sources give displacement for SHUNSEI MARU 4,939 grt.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett


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