IJN TACHIBANA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement
© 2010-2014 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall
18 June 1943:
24 November 1920:
Aioi. Laid down at Kobe Steel as a 6,521 gross ton oil tanker for Teikoku Sekiyu (Empire Oil) Co, Ltd.
5 April 1921:
Launched and named TACHIBANA MARU.
7 June 1921:
Completed and registered at Tokyo.
At an unknown date, TACHIBANA MARU is placed under Senpaku Uneikai (Civilian Administration) control and allotted to the IJA with Army number No. 5005.
30 March 1942:
A convoy consisting of TACHIBANA, OYO, BUJUN and SEIAN MARUs escorted by the auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU is due to depart Mako for Ujina via Kirun.
24 April 1942:
Off Susami Kii. At 1431, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Frank W. Fenno’s (USNA ’25) USS TROUT (SS-202) fires two stern torpedoes that hit and damage TACHIBANA MARU at 33-31N, 135-29E. TROUT also attacks an unidentified freighter with unclear results. An unidentified subchaser counterattacks TROUT, but Fenno evades.
Probably undergoes inspection and repairs at an unknown location.
30 September 1942:
Wake Island. TACHIBANA MARU embarks 265 captured American civilian worker POWs and departs for Japan. 
9 October 1942:
Arrives at Ita Ewa, Yokohama. Disembarks POWs.
15 December 1942:
At 1600 departs Mutsure for Mako.
31 January 1943:
At anchor at Takao.
5 February 1943:
9 March 1943:
At 1000, TACHIBANA MARU departs Singapore in a convoy also consisting of NORFOLK and ENJU MARUs and tanker EIYO MARU for St Jacques, Indochina.
4 April 1943:
Arrives at Takao.
16 April 1943:
Departs Yokosuka in convoy 7416A also consisting of CHIYO and YOKO MARUs escorted by escort ex-submarine depot ship KOMAHASHI. TACHIBANA MARU is en route to Ujina.
23 May 1943:
Departs Singapore in convoy No.692 also consisting of HOKKI and SUEZ MARUs without escort.
27 May 1943:
At 1300 arrives at St Jacques. At 1900 departs St Jacques in convoy No.498 also consisting of TATSUWA MARU and five unidentified ships without escort. The convoy splits in two after departing with TATSUWA MARU in the faster part.
1 June 1943:
At 1600 the first part arrives at Takao.
E 3 June 1943:
The second part arrives at Takao.
15 June 1943:
At 0650, TACHIBANA MARU departs Sasebo in convoy No. 166 also consisting of tankers CHIHAYA, KIYO, HAKKO, GOYO, CHIYODA and NICHIRIN MARUs and transports CEYLON, NORFOLK, SHOGEN, TAIAN and ISUZU MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.
At 1000, TAIAN MARU is detached for Kirun (Keelung), Formosa.
20 June 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Takao, Formosa.
10 July 1943:
Departs Palembang for Singapore.
15 July 1943:
Departs Singapore in convoy No.605 also consisting of TAMAHOKO, GYOSAN, SAMARANG, NICHIRIN (5106 GRT), SAN PEDRO, NICHIWA, KIYO MARUs, JUNGEN GO and likely KAIJUN GO probably escorted by Vichy French frigate LA PEROUSE 
18 July 1943:
At 1100 arrives at St Jacques.
10 August 1943:
At 1400, TACHIBANA MARU departs Moji for Mako, Pescadores in convoy No. 185 also consisting of tankers TONAN, SAN RAMON, MATSUMOTO, YAMAMIZU and NICHIRIN MARUs, passenger-cargo ships TEIBI (ex French BERNARDIN de ST PIERRE), KACHIDOKI (ex American PRESIDENT HARRISON) and GINYO MARUs, cargo ship ASUKA MARU and two unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan SADO.
15 August 1943:
Arrives at Mako.
18 August 1943:
Departs Mako for Saigon in convoy No. 316 also consisting of tankers SAN RAMON, NICHIRIN, YAMAMIZU and TONAN MARUs, passenger-cargo ships KACHIDOKI (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON) and GINYO MARUs, cargo ship ASUKA MARU and three unidentified ships.
21 August 1943:
The convoy now consists of eight ships, the three unidentified ships likely having detached for either Hong Kong or Hainan. At 1340 in position 15.24N 115-32E the convoy is attacked and three torpedoes narrowly miss GINYO MARU.
26 August 1943:
Arrives at Saigon.
8 September 1943:
Departs Palembang for Singapore.
17 September 1943:
Reported at Saigon.
27 September 1943:
At 1100 departs Cholon, Saigon for Takao with LONDON and TOKUSHIMA MARUs with unknown escort.
2 October 1943:
At 0600 arrives at Mako.
20 October 1943:
At 1900 arrives Mako from Singapore.
19 November 1943:
Departs Manila in convoy No. 874 also consisting of SHUNKO, MURORAN, ROKKO. HINODE, SHONAN MARUs and OGURA MARU No.2 and SHINSEI MARU No.1 together with one unidentified merchant ship escorted by the kaibokan ETOROFU. The auxiliary minesweeper CHOUN MARU No. 21 escorts the convoy initially.
24 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao.
26 November 1943:
Departs Takao in convoy No. 222 also consisting of HAKONE, AKITSU, HAWAII, NITTATSU, SEINAN, SHUNKO, HOTEN, ROKKO MARUs and OGURA MARU No.2 escorted by torpedo boat TOMOZURU.
27 November 1943:
At 0800 in the Formosa Strait the convoy is attacked by China based North American “Mitchell” B-25s that badly damage HAKONE MARU at 25-04N 119-40E. TOMOZURU is also strafed and damaged. NITTATSU and HAWAII MARUs attend and NITTATSU MARU attempts to tow HAKONE MARU but the latter sinks at 1715 without casualties.
3 December 1943:
Arrives at Moji.
6 January 1944:
At 1200 departs Kirun.
6 February 1944:
Departs Takao in TAMA-02 convoy also consisting of NAGATA MARU and tankers KIKUSUI MARU and OGURA MARU No.1 escorted by auxiliary gunboat CHOJUSAN MARU.
9 February 1944:
Arrives at Manila.
16 February 1944:
Departs Manila in convoy MAMI-02 also consisting of TEIKO (ex French D'ARTAGNAN), KIKUSUI, SAN DIEGO MARUs, OGURA MARU No.1 and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by the old destroyer KURETAKE.
21 February 1944:
TEIKO MARU (ex-French D’ARTAGNAN) and KIKUSUI MARU are detached and later that day the convoy arrives at Miri.
7 March 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs Manila in MATA-10 convoy also consisting of tankers SAN DIEGO, TAKETSU (BUTSU), NITTETSU MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1 and cargo ships TARUYASU (ex British TALTHYBIUS), KENWA, KOHO and SORACHI MARUs and two other unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA and minesweeper W-17.
12 March 1944:
Arrives at Takao.
15 March 1944:
At 1200, TACHIBANA MARU depart Takao for Moji in convoy TAMO-11 also consisting of TAITO, MUTSU, HINODE, MANILA, MANKO, ASAHI, BELGIUM, SORACHI, KOHO, TARUYASU (ex British TALTHYBIUS), KENWA, KENZUI, BRAZIL, KENNICHI and TAKETSU (BUTSU) MARUs and UNKAI MARU No. 12 and tankers NITTETSU, SAN DIEGO and SANKO MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1. escorted by destroyers SHIGURE and NOKAZE, minesweeper W-17 and subchasers CH-38 and CH-37.
16 March 1944:
At 1600, TEIKA (ex French CAP VARELLA) and TOYO MARUs join the convoy from Keelung. CH-38 is probably detached.
21 March 1944:
At 0430, MANKO, ASAHI, and TOYO MARUs are detached. At 1200, the convoy arrives at Nagasaki.
22 March 1944:
Arrives at Moji.
5 April 1944:
At 0240, TACHIBANA MARU departs Imari Bay for Takao in convoy MOTA-16 also consisting of OGURA MARU No. 1, NITTETSU, SANKO, HIROTA, TENSHIN and MITSU MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-18 and patrol boat PB-38.
15 April 1944:
Arrives at Takao.
22 April 1944:
At 0615, TACHIBANA MARU departs Manila in convoy MI-02 (outward) also consisting of fleet oiler ASHIZURI and tankers NITTETSU, HAKUBASAN, SANKO (YAMAKO), TAKETSU (BUTSU), MATSUMOTO MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1 and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 escorted by patrol boat PB-38.
23 April 1944:
At 2000, arrives at Pagdanan Bay, Palawan.
25 April 1944:
At 1925, arrives at Marudu Bay, North Borneo.
26 April 1944:
At 0800, departs Marudu Bay. At 1755, arrives at Jesselton, Borneo.
27 April 1944:
At 0915, departs Jesselton.
28 April 1944:
At 0045, arrives at Brunei Bay, Borneo. Later that day, arrives at Miri at 1325.
4 May 1944:
At 1030, TACHIBANA MARU departs Miri, Borneo for Moji in convoy MI-02 also consisting of NITTETSU, KENSEI, HAKUBASAN, SANKO, TAKETSU (BUTSU), TAIHEI, AKAGISAN, TENSHIN, MATSUMOTO, TAIYU, NISSHIN, SHINCHO and KURENAI MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1 and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2. escorted by kaibokan AWAJI, torpedo boat SAGI and patrol boat PB-38.
6 May 1944:
SW of Balabac Island. At 0801, LtCdr Francis D. Walker Jr's (USNA '35) USS CREVALLE (SS-291) fires torpedoes at the largest ship (16,801-tons) in the convoy, NISSHIN MARU. Three hit aft and heavy flooding begins. At 0810, she sinks at 07-19N, 116-52E. 15 crewmen are KIA but the fate of her 291 passengers is unknown. The escorts counter-attack and drop 13 DCs, but without success.
10 May 1944:
At 1330, the convoy arrives at Manila. KENSEI, AKAGISAN, TAIHEI, TENSHIN, TAIYU and KURENAI MARUs are detached. SEIYO MARU joins the convoy. Auxiliary gunboats PEKING and CHOJUSAN MARUs join the escort.
13 May 1944:
At 0552, the convoy departs Manila for Takao.
16 May 1944:
At 1705, the convoy arrives at Takao. SEIYO, HAKUBASAN and MATSUMOTO MARUs and auxiliary gunboat CHOJUSAN MARU are detached.
17 May 1944:
At 1527, convoy MI-02 departs Takao.
18 May 1944:
At 1520, the convoy arrives at Keelung. KAMO, CHIKUZEN and CHOSAN MARUs join the convoy, as does second-class destroyer HASU.
23 May 1944:
At 1700, convoy MI-02 arrives at Moji.
2 June 1944:
3 June 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs Imari Bay for Miri, Borneo in convoy MI-05 also consisting of KENEI, HINAGA, NIPPO, FUYUKAWA, SURAKARUTA, TATSUJU and SHOEI MARU and tankers NITTETSU, TOA, CERAM, SANKO (YAMAKO), AYAKIRI, AYANAMI, OEI, MARIFU, TOKUWA, TAKETSU (BUTSU) and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 and fleet oiler NOTORO plus thirteen unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan CD-18, torpedo boat SAGI, patrol boat PB-38, minesweeper W-17 and four unidentified escorts.
8 June 1944:
Arrives at Keelung, Formosa.
9 June 1944:
11 June 1944:
The convoy is joined by cargo ships/transports ARIMASAN, MANILA, MIIKESAN and USSURI MARUs and tankers SAN DIEGO MARU and KYOEI MARU No. 8 and JINEI MARU from Takao. Minelayer MAESHIMA and auxiliary subchaser CHa-95 join the escort. TOA and SHOEI MARUs are detached.
13 June 1944:
LtCdr John D. Crowley's (USNA ’34) USS FLIER (SS-250) torpedoes and damages MARIFU MARU at 15-57N, 119-42E. She is taken in tow by MIIKESAN MARU.
That same day, ownership of TACHIBANA MARU is transferred to Nippon Yusosen K.K.
15 June 1944:
The convoy arrives Manila. Damaged MARIFU MARU arrives later and is detached.
18 June 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs Manila in convoy MI-05. It now also consists of tankers JINEI, SAN DIEGO, BAIEI, KENZUI, ATAGO, AYANAMI, CERAM, OEI and TOKUWA MARUs, YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2, KYOEI MARU No. 8, fleet oiler NOTORO and cargo/transports ARIMASAN, HINAGA, NIPPO, TATSUJU, SURAKARUTA, TEIFU (ex French BOUGAINVILLE), ROKKO, DAIZEN, MIIKESAN , NICHIYO, HIDA and SEIWA MARUs with the same escorts.
23 June 1944:
At 1257, arrives at Miri.
27 June 1944:
At 1650, TACHIBANA MARU departs Miri for Moji in convoy MI-06 also consisting of OGURA MARU No. 2, NICHINAN, MATSUMOTO, NANSEI, ATAGO, ZUIHO and BAIEI MARUs and tankers KOTOKU, TOKUWA MARUs and UNKAI MARU No. 5 and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 escorted by kaibokan CD-14, patrol boat PB-38 and minesweeper W-18. At an unknown point, tanker CERAM MARU joins the convoy.
E 1 July 1944:
W-18 is detached from the convoy.
2 July 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs convoy MI-06 departs Manila now consisting of tankers ATAGO, TOKUWA and ZUIHO MARUs, UNKAI MARU No. 5, and OGURA MARU No. 2 and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2, transports TSUYAMA, AKAGISAN, KANKYO, YAGI and probably PACIFIC and MURORAN MARUs escorted by CD-14, Patrol Boat No.38, Minesweeper W-18.
10 July 1944:
Departs Takao in convoy MI-06 now additionally escorted by kaibokan CD-8 and auxiliary patrol boat TAKUNAN MARU No. 3.
17 July 1944:
At 1450, arrives at Moji.
20 July 1944:
Arrives at Genzan.
22 July 1944:
24 July 1944:
Arrives at Moji.
4 August 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs Moji for Takao for in convoy MOTA-22 also consisting of KENJO, GASSAN, HAKUSAN, TEIKA (ex-French CAP VARELLA), TERUKUNI, NANREI, GENKAI, TEIHOKU (ex-French PERSEE), HIOKI, MANSHU, SHIRANESAN, SHONAN and KOSHIN MARUs and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2, DAIBOSHI MARU No. 6 and six unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, HIBURI, CD-25 and CD-32. Among other cargo, the convoy carries the IJA's 25th Tank Regiment redeploying from Baotau, North China to Formosa.
6 August 1944:
Off SW Kyushu. At 0411, LtCdr (later Admiral/CINCPACFLT) Bernard A. Clarey’s (USNA ’34) USS PINTADO (SS-387) torpedoes and hits SHONAN MARU with three torpedoes. She breaks in two and sinks at 30-55N, 129-45E. Five crewmen are KIA.
9 August 1944:
At 1310, KOSHIN MARU's cargo suddenly explodes and the ship sinks at 26-10N, 124-15E. 28 crewmen are KIA. Casualties amongst the 1104 troops being carried are unknown.
10 August 1944:
Arrives at Keelung. Later transfers to Takao.
22 August 1944:
At 1410, TACHIBANA MARU departs Takao for Manila in convoy TAMA-24 also consisting of HIDA, KOTOKU, TEIHOKU (ex French PERSEE), RAKUTO, BATOPAHAT, GENKAI and MANSHU MARUs and tanker YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 and an unidentified ship, probably YUKIKAWA MARU escorted by torpedo boat HATO, kaibokan YASHIRO, CD-8, CD-25 and CD-32 and minesweepers W-38 and W-39.
25 August 1944:
CD-25 and GENKAI MARU are detached from the convoy and go to Pasaleng Bay to offload five MTB's from the deck of damaged HAKKO MARU No. 2 sheltering in the bay with destroyer YUNAGI. YUNAGI is detached and joins TAMA-24.
At 1024, Cdr (later Vice Admiral) Glynn R. Donaho's (USNA ’27) USS PICUDA (SS-382) torpedoes and sinks KOTOKU MARU at 18-42N, 120-49E. 16 men are KIA.At 1026, in the same position, Donaho torpedoes and sinks YUNAGI as the destroyer attempts a counter-attack. Probably all hands are lost.
At 1325, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Louis D. McGregor's (USNA ’30) USS REDFISH (SS-395) torpedoes and sinks BATOPAHAT MARU at 18-31N, 120-32E. 17 crewmen and an unknown number of passengers are KIA.
28 August 1944:
At 2100, arrives at Manila.
5 September 1944:
TACHIBANA MARU departs Manila for Miri, Borneo with kaibokan CD-8, CD 32 and CD-25 escorting convoy MAMI-10 also consisting of FUKUJU and ZUIYO MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships.
15 September 1944:
At 1500, TACHIBANA MARU departs Miri for Manila, Philippines in convoy MIMA-11 (also called MI-16) also consisting of fleet oiler KAMOI and URAL, YAMAMIZU No. 2, KYOKUHO, SHIKISAN, HOKKI, ZUIYO, TATSUHARU, TENSHIN, SHOEI, OMINE, KYOEI and IMAHARU MARUs (ex-Dutch De KLERK) and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and KYOEI MARU No. 6 escorted by kaibokan CD-8, CD-25, CD-28 and CD-32. The convoy hugs the coast calling at various small anchorages.
27 September 1944:
At 0807, Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Rueben T. Whitaker's (USNA ’34) USS FLASHER (SS-249) torpedoes and damages TACHIBANA MARU at 15-45N, 117-20E.
FLASHER also torpedoes and sinks URAL MARU at 15-32N, 117-16E. 144 passengers, 40 crewmen and five gunners are KIA. Survivors are picked up by ZUIYO MARU.
Two hours later, LtCdr Donald G. Baer's (USNA ’37) USS LAPON (SS-260) torpedoes HOKKI MARU at 15-50N, 117-41E. She catches fire and is abandoned. OMINE MARU takes her in tow, but she sinks at 15-50N, 117-41E. Two crewmen are KIA.
28 September 1944:
At 1000, the convoy arrives at Santa Cruz.
1 October 1944:
At 0700, convoy MIMA-11 departs Santa Cruz. At 1100, LtCdr William C. Thompson's (USNA ’35) USS CABRILLA (SS-288) torpedoes and sinks ZUIYO MARU at 16-07N, 119-43E. 45 survivors of URAL MARU and 21 crewmen are KIA.
At 1155, Thompson torpedoes and sinks KYOKUHO MARU at 16-11N, 119-44E. 66 crewmen, nine gunners and 43 soldiers are KIA.
2 October 1944:
Arrives at North San Feranando.
6 October 1944:
At 0618, TACHIBANA MARU departs N San Fernando as part of combined MATA-28 and MIMA-11 convoys also consisting of KOHOKU, HOKUREI, BUNZAN, SHOEI, HOKUSEN, TERUKUNI, HISHIGATA and OMINE MARUs and SHINYO MARU No. 8 and oilers KAMOI and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 escorted by kaibokan CD-8, CD-25 and CD-32, minesweeper W-20 and subchasers CH-28, CH-30, CH-33 and CH-41.
At about 0800, LtCdr Henry C. Stevenson's (USNA ’30) USS ASPRO (SS-309) attacks the convoy. Stevenson fires three torpedoes by periscope at a tanker and claims one hit, but actually achieves no results. At 1530, Thompson's CABRILLA torpedoes HOKUREI MARU and YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2.
YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2 sinks. 56 crewmen and passengers out of 58 are KIA. HOKUREI MARU is badly damaged and beached off Vigan. Four crewmen, and five passengers are KIA. At 1830, the convoy retires to Lapoc Bay, Philippines.
7 October 1944:
At 0030, the rest of convoy departs except for TERUKUNI and OMINE MARUs and SHINYO MARU No. 8. At 0600, TACHIBANA MARU and KAMOI accompanied by kaibokan CD-8 split off and forge ahead.
8 October 1944:
At 1630, the air raid warning for Takao is cancelled. At 1800, the convoy reverses course for Takao. At 2325, KOHOKU MARU is torpedoed and sunk in a night surface radar attack by LtCdr Victor B. McCrae's (USNA ’32) USS HOE (SS-258). 361 passengers, 15 troops and 41 crewmen are KIA. Earlier that night, in a similar attack, McCrae also torpedoes and heavily damages CD-8.
9 October 1944:
South China Sea. At 0142, Cdr Alan B. Banister's (USNA ’28) USS SAWFISH (SS-276) makes a night surface radar attack on TACHIBANA MARU. Banister fires 10 torpedoes and gets three hits that breaks TACHIBANA MARU in two. She sinks at 19-33N, 116-38E. 20 crewmen are KIA. CD-8 rescues survivors.
 After USS YORKTOWN's (CV-10) aircraft bombed Wake Island for two days, the Japanese commander, Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sakaibara Shigematsu (46) believed the Americans were about to invade and recapture the island. Sakaibara ordered all 98 civilians POWs executed on 7 October 1943. He personally beheaded one civilian POW. Tried and convicted by a military tribunal, he was hanged at Guam on June 18, 1947.
 It is not known which part the TATSUWA MARU was in but on account of age and loaded condition it is presumed the second part.
LA PEROUSE is known to have departed Singapore 0730 on 15 July 1943 for Saigon at 8.5 knots that was the likely convoy speed. It seems likely the ship would have escorted part or all of the convoy in the circumstances.
Thanks goes to Gilbert Casse of France.
- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.
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