(TACOMA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 10

24 January 1908:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki shipyard as a 6,178 ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaiska (OSK) Line.

5 February 1909:
Launched and named TACOMA MARU.

25 May 1909:

3 July 1909:
Departs Hong Kong on her maiden voyage for Tacoma, Washington on OSK’s North American route. She carries many immigrants to meet North America’s demand for labor.

1 August 1909:
At 1700, arrives at Tacoma’s Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound (CM&PS) Railroad's Oriental dock.

14 August 1909:
TACOMA MARU departs Tacoma.

19 October 1910:
When entering Seattle, Washington in heavy fog, TACOMA MARU runs aground off Fort Lawson Light House. TACOMA MARU’s passengers are taken off by life boats to shore and later arrive in Seattle by trolley cars.

South Atlantic. TACOMA MARU delivers English missionaries to Tristan du Cunha island, the "most remote settlement on earth" inhabited by descendents of two British soldiers and their wives. The soldiers were guards when Napoleon was imprisoned on the island of St. Helena.

17 May 1913:
TACOMA MARU arrives at Tacoma.

June 1913:
TACOMA MARU departs Seattle, Washington carrying 3,000 tons of logging engines and machinery and 11 expert operators to train the Siamese natives who are logging timber in that country’s teak forests.

15 August 1914:
Canal Zone. The United States formally opens the Panama Canal to international traffic.

28 November 1914.
TACOMA MARU en route from Yokohama to Tacoma, Washington reports that she received a wireless signal from her west-bound sister-ship CHICAGO MARU saying that three Imperial German Navy cruisers were operating between 189-190E in the Aleutians.

TACOMA MARU serves on OSK’s South American route. She carries many Japanese immigrants to Brazil and Peru. Her route from Kobe is across the Indian Ocean to the southern tip of Africa, then across the Atlantic to South America and up through the Panama Canal to the United States carrying coffee and other goods. She returns to Japan from the United States loaded with exports such as pig iron.

26 March 1922:
TACOMA MARU departs Cape Town, S Africa for Buenos Aires, Argentina on the River Plate, S America. Makes a diversionary stop to deliver an English missionary and his wife to Tristan du Cunha island now inhabited by 120 persons in ill-health.

TACOMA MARU serves on OSK’s Kobe ~ Dalian, Manchuria (Darien, China) route,

7 July 1937: The "First China Incident" and the Beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War:
Hun River, Lukuokiao, China. Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) troops on night maneuvers at the Marco Polo Bridge fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops across the river think they are under attack. They fire live rounds 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 Peiping (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

E 1937:
Chartered by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as a troop transport.

16 August 1938:
TACOMA MARU departs Osaka in a convoy also consisting of BRAZIL and RIO DE JANEIRO MARUs and other ships carrying elements of the IJA 85th Infantry Regiment.

19/20 August 1938:
Arrives at Shanghai

4 October 1938:
Departs Dalian carrying the IJA 137th Infantry Regiment of the 104th Division, 21st Army.

October 1938:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

9 October 1938:
Departs Mako,

11 October 1938:
Arrives at Arrived at Ta-Ya (Bias Bay), China.

12 October 1938: Operation "Z":
Ta-Ya (Bias Bay), 35 miles NE of Hong Kong. At dawn, Vice Admiral Shiozawa’s 5th Fleet assaults Canton in a surprise landing. Koichi’s forces consist of CruDiv 9's cruiser MYOKO (F), light cruisers KINU, JINTSU and TAMA, DesRon 5's light cruiser NAGARA and DesDiv 16's ASAGAO, YUGAO, FUYO and KARUKAYA, DesDiv 23's KIKUZUKI, MIKAZUKI, MOCHIZUKI and YUZUKI, DesDiv 28's YUNAGI and ASANAGI. The total number of the ships participacing in the landing is about 100 including attached Army Landing Craft Depot Ship IJA SHINSHU MARU. The naval force lands LtGen Furusho Motoo’s 21st Army comprised of LtGen Ando Rikichi’s 5th Division, LtGen Kuno Seiichi’s 18th Division and LtGen Miyake Toshio’s 104th Division.

TACOMA MARU lands the the 104th Division's 137th Infantry Regiment. The offensive is supported by carriers KAGA, SORYU and RYUJO, seaplane tenders CHITOSE, on her first operational deployment, and KAMIKAWA MARU, Formosa-based aircraft and 21st Army’s MajGen Fujita Tomo’s 4th Flight Group. Thereafter, Japanese forces continue their advance with little or no resistance.

E 1939:
Returned to her owners.

23 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJA as a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 274.

13 December 1941 - Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, departs Camranh Bay in the IJA 5th Infantry Division Transportation Movement. TACOMA MARU is in TransDiv5 with MEIGAN, TOHO, SUEZ, 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).

9 February 1942: Operation "L" – The Invasions of Muntok, Banka Island and Palembang, Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies (NEI):
TACOMA MARU departs Camranh Bay, Indochina in an invasion convoy consisting of transports ALASKA, MANSEI, TAJIMA, ANYO, OYO, SADO and KINUGAWA MARUs escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro’s (41) DesRon 3 light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, YUGIRI and ASAGIRI, MinSwpDiv 1’s W-1, W-2,W-3,W-4 and W-5 and SubChasDiv 11’s CH-7 and CH-8. Air cover is provided by floatplane fighters from seaplane tenders SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs.

The convoy carries seven companies of the 229th Regiment of the IJA 38th Division, a mountain gun battery of the 10th Independent Mountain Artillery Battalion, an engineer company of the 38th Engineer Regiment and men of the 38th Medical Unit.

14 February 1942:
The invasion convoy successfully lands its troops on Sumatra, NEI. OYO MARU suffers slight damage in an air attack, probably by RAAF Lockheed “Hudson” light bombers.

21 July 1942:
TACOMA MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 321 consisting of TOYAMA, WALES, TEIYO (ex-German SAARLAND) and ITALY MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by minelayer HOKO and subchaser CH-9.

28 July 1942:
Arrives at St Jacques, Vichy French Indochina.

20 October 1942:
TACOMA MARU departs Tanjong Priok, the port for Batavia, Java, NEI (now Jakarta, Indonesia) for Rangoon, Burma (now Ongan, Myamar) carrying some 1,600 Dutch and British prisoners of war (POWs). [1]

23 October 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Disembarks 63 sick POWs for Changi Jail.

E 24 October 1942:
TACOMA MARU departs Singapore for Penang, Malaya (now Malaysia) in an unescorted and unidentified convoy also consisting of five other unidentified ships.

25 October 1942:
The convoy arrives at Georgetown, Penang. Departs about noon, but soon thereafter an Allied submarine (probably British based at Ceylon) is detected. The convoy is ordered to scatter. Later, the ships return to Penang to await protection. They lay at anchor for nine days.

E 4 November 1942:
Departs Penang.

7 November 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon, Burma. Disembarks the POWs to the Rangoon Jail. Later, the Japanese put the emaciated survivors to work as slave laborers building the Burma-Siam (Thailand) railway. Many die.

25 April 1943:
At 0800, TACOMA MARU departs Palau in convoy P-425 also consisting of IJA transports ATLAS and FUKUYO MARUs, NISSEN MARU No. 6 and IJN transport IKUSHIMA MARU escorted by torpedo boat HATO.

3 May 1943:
Auxiliary minesweepers TAKUNAN MARU No. 8 and TAMA MARU no. 3 join the convoy at 29-33N 133-30E.

5 May 1943:
At 0930, arrives at Moji.

12 May 1943:
Departs Ujina. TACOMA MARU carries most of the IJA 54th Division’s 154th Infantry’s Regiment HQ, 3rd Battalion (less 3rd Machine-gun Company and 3rd Infantry Gun Platoon), Regiment Gun Company (less 1 platoon), 1 platoon of Rapid Fire Gun Company and most of Signal Company.

10 June 1943:
At 0900, TACOMA MARU departs St Jacques, Vichy French Indochina in unescorted convoy No. 585 also consisting of tankers SHOYO MARU and UNKAI MARU No. 5 and transport/cargo ships NICHIRAN and MANSHU MARUs and an unidentified ship.

13 June 1943:
Arrives at Singapore. Disembarks troops and horses. SHOYO MARU is detached for Palembang, Sumatra.

28 August 1943:
TACOMA MARU departs Rabaul, New Britain for Palau, Carolines in convoy O-605 also consisting of auxiliary collier/tanker ASAKAZE MARU, IJN requisitioned YAMAGIRI and NICHIRYO MARUs and IJA transports TAISHO and TACOMA MARUs escorted escorted by minesweeper W-22 and subchasers CH-38, CH-39.

About 70 nms W Mussau Island, Bismarck Archipelago. At 2255, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Bernard F. McMahon's (USNA ’31) USS DRUM (SS-228) intercepts the convoy. McMahon fires four torpedoes at one ship and two at another. A torpedo hits YAMAGIRI MARU in the starboard side between holds No. 2 and No. 3 at 01-31S, 148-41E, opening a large hole in her hull. However, she does not sink and is able to make it back to Rabaul. The escorts drop 27 depth charges on DRUM, but the submarine evades and escapes unharmed.

2 September 1943:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Palau.

29 September 1943:
TACOMA MARU departs Manila in convoy No. 864 also consisting of GYOKO, KISO, SORACHI and USSURI MARUs escorted by destroyer FUYO.

E 7 October 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

3 December 1943:
TACOMA MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 118 also consisting of transports DURBAN, KAIRYU, NANREI, NISSHU, PANAMA, RAIZAN and TSUKIKAWA MARUs and cargo JUICHISEI MARU (HOSHI MARU No. 11) and four unidentified merchants with unknown escorts.

8 December 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Takao.

7 January 1944:
At 0600, TACOMA MARU departs Wasili, Halmahera, Moluccas for Manokwari, New Guinea in a convoy also consisting of BUNZAN, KAIRYU, MIKASA, NISSHU, TOCHIHOSHI and TSUKUKAWA MARUs escorted by auxiliary minesweeper Wa-105. TACOMA MARU carries Headquarters, 53rd Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 1st Company and the battalion ammunition train. TSUKUKAWA MARU carries 2nd Company, 53rd Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 4th Field Searchlight Battalion (minus 2nd Company), 228th Independent Truck Company and probably others. The convoy also carries the 24th Signal Regiment, 17th Taiwanese Auxiliary Labor Group, 18th Taiwanese Auxiliary Labor Group and others.

9 January 1944:
At 1300, arrives at Manokwari. Later that day, arrives at Sarmi.

28 January 1944:
At 2150, convoy “A” departs Sarmi, New Guinea for Halmahera consisting of transports TAISOKU and NANKA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 5 and SHINSEI MARU No. 17 escorted by auxiliary minesweeper Wa-10.

30 January 1944:
TACOMA and NANKA MARUs and minelayer AOTAKA depart Sarmi. Later that day, they arrive at Sorong, New Guinea.

31 January 1944:
At 0700, TACOMA MARU departs Sorong in ballast for Halmahera escorted by AOTAKA. At 1530, they join convoy “A”. Minelayer WAKATAKA also joins the escort of convoy “A” at that time.

1 February 1944:
At 0225, LtCdr John C. Broach's (USNA '27) USS HAKE (USS-256) attacks the convoy as it nears Halmahera. After a perfect approach, with the three targets in a line of bearing, HAKE launches a spread of six bow torpedoes and gets two hits in TACOMA MARU's No. 1 and No. 3 holds. Two men in TACOMA MARU's engine room are KIA, but all other seamen are rescued. At about 0315, she sinks. HAKE then also torpedoes and sinks troop transport NANKA MARU.

The attack achieves complete surprise. HAKE is not attacked. The remainder of the convoy arrives at Kau, Halmahera that day.

Authors' Note:
[1] One source gives the departure date as 15 Oct '42.

[2] No data were found for TACOMA MARU's movements from Nov '42 to Apr '43. Readers with access to any such data are requested to post the information on the Discussion and Questions board or j-aircraft.org's IJN Ship Message Board

Thanks go to the late John Whitman and Fontessa-san of Japan for info on the IJA 137th Infantry Regiment landing at Bias Bay, China. Thanks also go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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