RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(Sister YOSHIDA MARU No. 2, prewar)

SUEZ MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012 Bob Hackett


1 May 1919:
Uraga. Laid down at Sumitomo Shipbuilding & Machinery Co. Ltd. shipyard as a 4,645-ton passenger-cargo ship for Yamashita Kisen, K. K., Tokyo.

25 June 1919:
Launched and named SUEZ MARU.

17 August 1919:
Completed. She can accommodate 548 passengers.

15 January 1928:
SUEZ MARU arrives at Perth, Australia from Yokohama.

10 November 1930:
SUEZ MARU arrives at Perth from India to load wheat.

October 1932:
Sold to Kuribayasi Syosen, K. K.

1942:
Chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA).

13 December 1941 - Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, departs Camranh Bay in the IJA 5th Infantry Division Transportation Movement. SUEZ MARU is in the TransDiv 5 with MEIGAN, TOHO, TACOMA, KUROHIME, NICHIRYU, NIKKI and RYUUN MARUs. The Movement carries the main body of the 5th Infantry Division.

16 December 1941:
At 1900, arrives at Pattani, Siam (Thailand). Disembarks troops.

19 February 1942:
At 0800, 39 transports of Vice Admiral Takahashi's Third Fleet, Eastern Java Invasion Force (Toho Koryaku Butai) depart the anchorage at Jolo Island, Philippines for Java carrying the IJA’s 48th Infantry Division. En route, four more transports carrying the Sakaguchi Detachment (assigned to capture Tjilatjap) join the invasion convoy.

The convoy is escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji's heavy cruisers NACHI and HAGURO, DesRon 2's light cruisers NAKA and JINTSU and DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE and DesRon 4's light cruiser NAKA, DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MURASAME, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO.

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 HrMs DE RUYTER (F), heavy cruisers HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH and HrMs JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER, HrMs 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).

During this day and the next day’s engagements, Doorman's Strike Force loses HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH, HrMs DE RUYTER, HrMs JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER and HrMs KORTENAER to superior Japanese forces. The Allies also lose old four stack USS POPE (DD-225).

1 March 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
At 0120, 100 miles W of Surabaya, Java. The Eastern Java Invasion Force now consisting of 43 transports including SUEZ MARU enters the roadstead off Kragan village, East Java.

Just before dropping anchor, the ships suffer a fierce air attack. JOHORE MARU is hit and suffers many KIA and WIA. TOKUSHIMA MARU is also hit and has to be beached at 0200. Despite the air attacks, at 0015, the convoy lands the 48th Infantry Division at Kragan village, East Java. Their main objectives are the Surabaya Naval Base on the eastern coast and Tjilatjap harbor on the southern coast.

14 April 1942: Transport Operation "U":
SUEZ MARU departs Singapore as part of Transport Unit No. 3 consisting of 32 marus including ANYO, ENGLAND, GINYO, KUWAYAMA, KOCHI, KENKOKU, SAMARANG, TAIKAI, TAZAN, TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA), HAMBURG, BUYO, HAVRE, BRAZIL, PENANG, HOKUROKU, MONTREAL, YAWATA and YONEYAMA MARUs. The 3rd Transport Unit carries the 56th Mixed Brigade and other units.

19 April 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar).

22 April 1942:
Departs Rangoon.

28 April 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

28 May 1942:
At 1200, SUEZ MARU departs Mako for Ujina in convoy No. 216 also consisting of SAIHO, PENANG, MIYADONO, KENZAN, IIDA, HOKUSHIN and SANFUKU MARUs and FUKUEI MARU No. 2 escorted by old destroyer SANAE and minelayer TAKASHIMA.

31 May 1942:
NW of Amami-O-Shima, Ryukyus. The convoy detects an enemy submarine. Minelayer TSUBAME arrives and she and TAKASHIMA drop depth charges. No submarine attacks develop.

3 June 1942:
Arrives at the port of Ujina, Hiroshima.

23 May 1943:
SUEZ MARU departs Singapore in Convoy No. 692 also consisting of HOKKI and TACHIBANA MARUs without escort.

27 May 1943:
At 1300, arrives at St Jacques.

8 June 1943:
SUEZ MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 270 also consisting of KEMBU, SATSUMA, TATSUNO MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan SADO.

13 June 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

13 August 1943:
At 1240, SUEZ MARU departs Mako (Bako), Pescadores for Saigon, Indochina (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) in convoy No. 315 consisting of TOSAN, BISAN, JAMBI, SUNGSHAN (SUZAN), BELGIUM, CHINKO, NIKKO, RISSHUN, CHILE, SEISHIN, KOKKO and WALES MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

15 August 1943:
At 0500, KOKKO and WALES MARUs are detached for Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan) and Hong Kong respectively.

21 August 1943:
At 1005, arrives at Cap St. Jacques, then proceeds up river to Saigon.

28 September 1943:
At 1615, SUEZ MARU departs Mutsure for Takao in convoy No. 102 also consisting of BELGIUM, CHIYODA, MISAKI, TAIAN, TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), FRANCE and YUBAE MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

29 September 1943:
At 1300, HAVRE and TEIFU (ex-French BOUGAINVILLE) MARUs depart Miike and later join convoy No. 102.

3 October 1943:
At 1925, arrives at Takao.

12 October 1943:
At 1250, SUEZ MARU departs Manila for Kau, Halmahera Island in convoy H-2 also consisting of HAMBURG and YUBAE MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-103.

14 October 1943:
At 1620, convoy H-2 arrives at Cebu and partially unloads.

27 October 1943:
convoy H-2 departs Cebu for Kau Bay. PB-103 is detached and replaced as escort by minelayer WAKATAKA.

29 October 1943:
At 1200, arrives at Kau.

9 November 1943:
At 0500, convoy H-2 departs Kau.

11 November 1943:
At 1635, arrives at Manokwari, New Guinea.

12 November 1943:
At 1600, departs Manokwari.

15 November 1943:
At 0725, arrives at Kau.

November 1943:
Arrives at Ambon, Moluccas.

26 November 1943:
SUEZ and NICHINAN MARUs depart Ambon for Surabaya escorted by minesweepers W-11 and W-12. SUEZ MARU is carrying hundreds of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers as well as 422 British (including 221 RAF servicemen), and 127 Dutch mostly sick POWs. [1]

On her fore deck, SUEZ MARU carries a damaged E13A1 "Jake" float plane scheduled for repair by the No. 102 Repair Depot at Surabaya. En route, reports are received of American air dropped magnetic mines in Surabaya's harbor.

27 November 1943:
W-11 is detached and heads due west.

28 November 1943:
NICHINAN MARU is detached.

29 November 1943:
Java Sea. N of Bali, off Kangean Island. At about 0920, Cdr Thomas Hogan’s (USNA ’31) USS BONEFISH (SS-223) fires four torpedoes and gets one hit in the stern of SUEZ MARU. At 0940, she sinks at 06-20S, 116-30E. Many men (about 850 POWs) including 69 Japanese are trapped in the holds and drown, but others take to the water.

W-12, working until about 1400, Lt Usumu’s crew picks up 205 Japanese soldiers and 93 crewmen, but leaves 200~250 POW's in the sea. At 1415, W-12's CO, Lt Kawano Usumu, orders the POWs massacred. At about 1600, a rifle party and a machine gun open fire on the POW's. Lt Kawano then has W-12 ram and sink empty rafts and lifeboats. At about 1630, W-12 departs for Batavia (Jakarta), Java.

Of the 549 British and Dutch prisoners, there are no survivors. [1]


Author's Note:
[1] One source says SUEZ MARU was carrying 1,102 British and Dutch POW's another says 542. Another unconfirmed source claims there was one survivor, British Soldier Kenneth Thomas, who was picked up 24 hours later by Australian minesweeper HMAS BALLARAT en route to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Bob Hackett


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