Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 3

8 April 1916:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho, K. K. as Yard No. 265, a 5,155-ton passenger cargo ship for Tatsuuma Kisen, K. K., Nishinomiya.

14 December 1916:
Launched and named SOMEDONO MARU.

20 January 1917:

June 1917:
Departs the Puget Sound area for Kobe after calling at Everett, Bellingham and Tacoma, Washington and loading about 375,000 feet of timber.

September 1917:
Departs Portland, Oregon for Kobe carrying about 3,285,000 feet of timber.

21 February 1918:
Departs Puget Sound for Kobe carrying an unknown quantity of timber.

18 May 1918:
Departs Seattle for San Francisco.

26 July 1919:
Arrives at Singapore from Algiers.

28 July 1919:
Departs Singapore for Surabaya, Java.

SOMEDONO MARU arrives at Port Dick, Alaska.

23 December 1923:
Arrives at the Port of Tacoma, Washington and loads an unknown quantity of timber at Pier 2.

26 November 1924:
Arrives at Seattle, Washington.

13 June 1937:
Arrives at Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

6 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 40

18 December 1941: The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
At 1200, SOMEDONO MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Lingayen Gulf, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Rear Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (39)(former CO of HARUNA) 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit with 27 other IJA transports escorted by DesRon 2's light cruiser NAKA, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO, minesweepers W-9, W-10, W-11, W-12, W-17 and W-18 and subchasers CH-4, CH-5, CH-6, CH-10, CH-11, CH-12, CH-16 , CH-17 and CH-18.

The Japanese main invasion at Lingayen Gulf consists of three transport echelons. The first is composed of 27 transports from Takao under Rear Admiral Hara Kensaburo, the second of 28 transports under Rear Admiral Nishimura and the third of 21 transports from Keelung under Rear Admiral Hirose Sueto. This force of 76 transports carries the main part of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army.

24 December 1941:
SOMEDONO MARU and Rear Admiral Nishimura's 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit arrive at Lingayen Gulf between 0110 and 0430. At 0530, LtGen Dobashi's 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit begins landing troops.

21 January 1942:
SOMEDOMO MARU departs Mutsure with transports FUSHIMI, TAKETOYO, TOFUKU, BRAZIL, COLUMBIA, MAEBASHI, GENOA, HOEISAN, ATSUTA, DAINICHI, TOKIWA, SYDNEY, MOTOYAMA, PACIFIC, KIZZAN, REIYO, TATSUNO and TSUYAMA MARUs escorted by CruDiv 9's light cruiser OI and DesDiv 32's FUYO, ASAGAO and KARUKAYA. The transports are carrying the 2nd Infantry Division.

26 January 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores. Later, the convoy departs for Camranh Bay to mobilize for the Invasion of Java.

18 February 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
SOMEDONO MARU is attached to Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hiraoki, Kumeichi’s (39) 9th Base Force in Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s Western Java Seizure Force. At 1000, departs Camranh Bay in a convoy also comprised of 55 troop transports.

The transports carry the 2nd Infantry Division for the invasions of Merak, Bantam Bay and Eretan, Java escorted by light cruisers NATORI, and YURA and DesDivs 5, 6, 11, 12 and 22. Seaplane tender SANYO MARU provides air cover. Forty-five transports go to Merak and Bantam Bay Java.

28 February 1942:
S of Merak, Java. At 2320, SOMEDONO MARU and 29 other transports carrying MajGen Nasu Yumio’s and Colonel Fukushima Kyusaku’s detachments of L tGen Maruyama Masao’s 2nd Infantry Division commence landing their troops.

27 February 1942: The Battle of the Java Sea:
At 1547, HAGURO and NACHI, DesRon 2's JINTSU with DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE engage Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman's Strike Force's light cruiser HNMS DE RUYTER (F), heavy cruisers HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH and HNMS JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER, HNMS KORTENAER and WITTE de WITH and old destroyers USS ALDEN (DD-211), JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230).

28 February 1942:
At 1900, after refueling, USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH sortie for Tjilatjap via the Sunda Strait. At 2215, HOUSTON and PERTH attack Japanese troop transports screened only by destroyers HARUKAZE, HATAKAZE and FUBUKI. The destroyers make smoke to mask the transports. FUBUKI charges HOUSTON and PERTH and launches torpedoes.

At 2300, the Western Support Force's cruisers MIKUMA and MOGAMI and destroyer SHIKINAMI with the Third Escort Force's light cruiser NATORI, destroyers SHIRAKUMO, MURAKUMO, SHIRAYUKI, HATSUYUKI and ASAKAZE arrive and engage HOUSTON and PERTH with gunfire and torpedoes.

At 2308, torpedoes strike both USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH. At 2342, Captain Hector M. L. Waller's PERTH sinks. 353 men are KIA and four die of wounds. 328 men, including about 240 from PERTH, are rescued by destroyers and other ships to become POWs. Later, some of these POWs and survivors from minesweepers HMS RAHMAN and HMS SIN AIK LEE and HDL No. 1063 and yacht WHITE SWAN, all finally numbering 246 men, are transferred to SOMEDONO MARU and taken to Bantam Bay. After a week on board, they are transferred to either the civilian jail there or to the cinema at Serang, Java.

21 December 1942: No. 6 Go Transportation Operation:
Convoy No. 35 assembles at Shanghai to transport the IJA’s 6th Infantry Division via Truk to Guadalcanal (after the decision is made to evacuate Guadalcanal, the convoy’s destination is changed to New Guinea). The convoy consists of troop convoy Parts A, B and C. That same day, Parts A and B depart Shanghai for New Guinea.

25 December 1942:
Part C departs Shanghai consisting of SOMEDONO, MEIU, SURABAYA and SHINAI MARUs escorted by destroyer TSUGA.

19 January 1943:
Part C departs Truk for Shortlands, Bougainville.

20 January 1943:
286 miles from Truk. Lookouts aboard LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Creed C. Burlingame’s USS SILVERSIDES (SS-236) spot the convoy. After paralleling the convoy throughout daylight, SILVERSIDES moves ahead at sundown to lay in wait. At 1755, as the convoy moves into range, Burlingame fires five bow torpedoes at overlapping targets.

At 1757, SURABAYA MARU is hit portside in the bow. She takes on a list and sinks by the bow at 03-24N, 154-13E. She was carrying 1,120 men of the 6th Infantry Division, a medical unit and others, a crew of 72 men and 35 gunners. 462 soldiers and 37 other crewmen are KIA.

MEIU MARU is hit about the same time and sinks at about 1915. She was carrying a battalion of the IJA 6th Infantry Division’s 23rd Regiment, a crew of about 100 men and 70 gunners plus 40 horses. About 400 soldiers and one crewman are KIA.

SOMEDONO MARU is undamaged. Subchaser CH-11 and gunboat CHOAN MARU No. 2 rescue survivors.

19 February 1943:
Buin, Bougainville, Solomons. USAAF Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" heavy bombers bomb and sink SOMEDONO MARU. Two passengers and 26 crewmen are KIA.

Authors' Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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