(TAGA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014-2017 Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler
Revision 2

2 February 1939:
Tsurumi. Laid down at Tetsu Zosen K. K. as Yard No. 385, a 2,868-ton cargo ship for Hinode Kisen K. K., Tokyo.

29 July 1939:
Launched and named TAGA MARU. [4]

10 October 1939:

23 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and allotted Army No. 741.

21 July 1942:
TAGA MARU departs Singapore escorting convoy No. 618 also consisting of four unidentified ships escorted by old destroyer KARUKAYA.

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

27 August 1942:
TAGA MARU departs St Jacques in convoy No. 431.

2 September 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

5 September 1942:
TAGA MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 259 also consisting of KINKASAN MARU and three unidentified merchants escorted by old destroyer KURETAKE

E 7 September 1942:
KURETAKE is detached.

10 September 1942:
The rest of the convoy arrives at Mutsure, near Moji.

11 December 1942:
TAGA MARU departs Singapore in convoy No. 652 also consisting of an unidentified merchant escorted by old destroyer SANAE.

15 December 1942:
Arrives at St Jacques.

25 May 1943:
At 0600, TAGA MARU departs Saeki, Japan in convoy K-525 also consisting of DELAGOA, NICHIRYO, TAGANOURA and TOYOKUNI MARUs and SHINTO MARU No. 1 escorted by patrol boat PB-31 and auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 8.

E 26 May 1943:
At latitude 29N, TAKUNAN MARU No. 8 is detached.

2 June 1943:
Arrives at Palau, Carolines.

18 June 1943:
TAGA MARU departs Rabaul in a convoy also consisting of HIBI MARU and SHINTO MARU No. 1 escorted by subchasers CH-24 and CH -38.

14 July 1943:
TAGA MARU departs Palau in convoy FU-406 also consisting of transports OLYMPIA, RYUYO, UMEKAWA, YAMAFUKU and YAMAGATA MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-31.

E 21 July 1943:
The escort is joined by minelayer NUWAJIMA and auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 3.

23 July 1943:
Off Saeki the convoy is dissolved.

6 August 1943:
Convoy O-606 departs Saeki for Palau consisting of MITO, TAGA, SHINJU, TOTAI, FUKKO and [I GO] SHINKO MARUs, escorted by minesweeper W-17 (as far as Palau) and auxiliary minesweepers TAKUNAN MARU No. 7 and TAMA MARU No. 8 (both as far as 29N). The convoy sails at 8.5 knots.

7 August 1943:
At 29N, TAKUNAN MARU No. 8 and TAMA MARU No.7 are detached.

15 August 1943:
Convoy O-606 arrives at Palau.

20 August 1943:
Convoy So-003 departs Palau for Rabaul, New Britain, consisting of TAGA, MITO and TOYAMA MARUs, escorted by subchasers CH-18 and CH-37.

25 August 1943:
Ca. 52 nm WNW of Mussau Islands, Bismarck Archipelago. The convoy is attacked by a single Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bomber. MITO MARU receives a near miss portside amidships causing many large and small splinter holes in her hull but is able to proceed without problems. MITO MARU is carrying about 2.800 replacement troops for the 6th Army Division. 5 troops are killed and more than 50 wounded.

27 August 1943:
At 0550, convoy So-003 arrives at Rabaul.

31 August 1943:
At 1200, convoy O-105 departs Rabaul for Palau now consisting of TAGA, MITO, UME, TOYAMA and SORACHI MARUs, escorted by subchasers CH-18 and CH-37.

2 September 1943:
00-37S, 148-30E, ca. 70 nm WNW of Mussau Islands, Bismarck Archipelago. Convoy is again attacked by a single B-24. TOYAMA MARU is lightly damaged, but able to proceed without any problems.

9 September 1943:
Convoy O-105 arrives at Palau.

12 September 1943:
Convoy FU-206 departs Palau for Saeki consisting of TAGA, ASAKAZE, FUKKAI, SHINYU, TOYAMA and UME MARUs, escorted by torpedo boat HATO.

22 September 1943:
Minelayer YURISHIMA joins as an additional escort at 31-22N, 134-00E, as far as Fuka-Shima, Oita Prefecture.

23 September 1943:
Convoy FU-206 arrives at Saeki.

30 September 1943:
At 0800, convoy O-006 departs Saeki for Palau consisting of Rabaul-bound vessels TAGA, FUKKO, [I GO] SHINKO (3,119grt) and TAIRIN MARUs and Wewak-bound vessels ASO and JUISSEI MARUs. The convoy is escorted by minesweeper W-18 as far as Palau, auxiliary minesweepers TOKUHO MARU No.10 and TAMA MARU as far as latitude 30N, and auxiliary minesweepers TAMA MARU No.7 and OI MARU as far as latitude 29N. See notes [5][6][7][8].

2 October 1943:
During this day all four auxiliary minesweepers finish escort duty and return to Saeki.

10 October 1943:
Convoy O-006 arrives at Palau.

14 October 1943:
Convoy SO-406 departs Palau for Rabaul consisting of army requisitioned transports ASUKA, FUKKO, RYUOSAN, TAGA, TAIRIN MARUs and navy requisitioned auxiliary supply ship HOKKAI MARU (407grt), escorted by subchasers CH-17 and CH-40.

18 October 1943:
At 0345, TAIRIN MARU is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) John S. Coye's (USNA ’33) USS SILVERSIDES (SS-236) at 00-22N, 143-23E. Shortly before the attack a lookout on the mast of one of the subchasers discovers the red light of a lamp and all ships are immediately warned of a nearby enemy submarine. Despite the warning and strict precautions, TAIRIN MARU is hit by two torpedoes starboard side under the bridge and at the bow and sinks in 10 minutes stern first. The bow torpedo explosion causes the bow gun platform to collapse and all gunners are blown into the sea. Two gunners from the bow gun platform, one lookout and one crew are killed, five are wounded. The ship was carrying ca. 2,100 tons of cargo carrying including Army tanks, vehicles, foodstuffs and several highly specialized development personnel.

21 October 1943:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Rabaul. 25 October 1943: Convoy O-505 departs Rabaul for Palau consisting of KOSEI, TAGA, SAN FRANCISCO, TAITO MARUs and one unidentified merchant ship, escorted by CH-17 and CH-18.

2 November 1943:
Convoy O-505 arrives at Palau.

5 November 1943:
At 1000, convoy FU-503 departs Palau for Saeki consisting of army requisitioned transports BUNZAN MARU and TAGA MARUs (both bound for Ujina) and navy requisitioned transport KOSEI MARU (bound for Kure), escorted by destroyer SATSUKI. The convoy sails at 10 knots.

9 November 1943:
At 1320, TAGA MARU is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr Philip W. Garnett's (USNA ’33) USS SARGO (SS-188) at 21-41N, 131-12E (ca. 300 nm WNW of Okino-Tori-Shima). TAGA MARU is hit by one torpedo port side in engine room. Heavy flooding causes engine to stop. The ship is now unnavigable and drifting. Six crew are killed. As there is no hope to tow the wreck, SATSUKI takes on the surviving crew members and scuttles TAGA MARU with gunfire.

11 November 1943:
At 1135, KOSEI MARU MARU is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr Philip W. Garnett's (USNA ’33) USS SARGO (SS-188) at 27-40N, 130-24E (ca. 40 nm SE of Kikai-Shima). KOSEI MARU is hit in the engine room and is unable to navigate. Twelve crew are killed. As there is no hope to tow the ship, at 1500, SATSUKI takes over the surviving crew members. Abandoned KOSEI MARU is still drifting as the remaining ships proceed. At 1502 and 1615, BUNZAN MARU is subjected to two torpedo attacks, but succeeds in dodging both attacks. At 2030, after news arrives on KOSEI MARU´s disaster, auxiliary minesweepers SOBUN and RYOSUI MARUs are sent from Seso Anchorage, Kakeroma-Jima, Amami-O-Shima to the scene of disaster. Upon arrival, both vessels conduct an anti-submarine sweep and return to Seso Anchorage the next day.

12 November 1943:
At 0725, BUNZAN MARU receives an order to discontinue her voyage for the moment and take shelter at Koniya, Amami-O-Shima, while SATSUKI is instructed to proceed to Sasebo after the safe arrival of BUNZAN MARU at Koniya. At the same time, minelayer NUWAJIMA is ordered to depart immediately from Aburatsu Harbor, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu to Koniya to take over escort of BUNZAN MARU. At 1800, one medium attack plane from the Okinawa Air Group Detachment is searching the vicinity where KOSEI MARU was torpedoed, but no trace is found of the ship and she probably sank in the meantime.

13 November 1943:
At 0100, BUNZAN MARU arrives at Koniya. At 0500, destroyer SATSUKI is detached and proceeds to Sasebo.

Author's Notes:
[1] The earlier version of this TROM erroneously reported that TAGA MARU departed Manila carrying about 850 American prisoners-of war (POWs) from the Cabanatuan POW camp via Takao and arrived at Moji. The source of the error was author Greg Michno’s generally reliable “Death on the Hell Ships” and several other secondary sources upon which he relied. Michno noted that one of these sources claimed the ship was named CORRAL MARU, but that Michno could find no such ship in Japanese records.

[2] Researcher Erich Muehlthaler of Germany noted that an alternative reading of KOHO MARU is "koura maru" which is very close to CORAL/CORRAL MARU. KOHO MARU was a 4,291 grt "peacetime" standard type 1B cargo completed on 31 March 1943 by Mitsubishi at Yokohama and torpedoed and sunk 14 May ' 44 by USS SAND LANCE (SS-381) WNW of Guam.

[3] CF reader Jim Erickson also says that 4 of the 5 former POWs with whom he spoke, remembered the ship...with the funnel amidships, rather than at the rear as TAGA MARU. Erich located a rare photo of KOHO MARU's sister FUSHIMI MARU No. 3, a 4,292.98 grt "peacetime" standard type 1B cargo also completed on 31 March 1943 by Mitsubishi at Kobe. The photo clearly shows her stack amidships. Although during construction, FUSHIMI MARU No.3 was converted to an "emergency tanker" this did not have any effect on her general appearance.

[4] Erich discovered a message from the C-in-C, Takao Defense Force that reported the sailing between Manila and Takao of two IJA cargo ships KOHO and ZUISHO MARUs with an ETA at Takao at 1900, 23 Sep ’43. From available information, Erich estimates their departure from Manila at 19 or 20 Sep ‘43. He further speculates that perhaps both ships departed Manila Harbor on the evening of 19 Sep ’43 and stayed the night in Manila Bay before leaving early morning of 20 Sep ‘43. Although the above four notes are not dispositive that KOHO MARU was, indeed, the "CORAL MARU" POW ship, its case certainly seems stronger now than that for TAGA MARU.

[5] Not to be confused with TAGA MARU (2220 GRT/1945) sunk by USS FLYING FISH (SS-229) in Jun '45.

[6] JUISSEI MARU is her correct name, not HOSHI MARU No.11; this is confirmed by wartime record of owner Yamashita Kisen showing her name both in kanji and hiragana style. Yamashita Kisen named several of its ships with ending –sei which means “star”).

[7] Navy requisitioned B-AK [I GO] SHINKO MARU is towing a medium type UNKATO, a so called “cargo (carrying) tube”, length 33,1 meters, diameter 3.92 meters, underwater displacement 280 tons. Above a certain towing speed the cargo tube completely submerges. This is the first time that a medium type UNKATO is towed to Rabaul by a merchant ship. Six more UNKATO will follow in such manner with the last one leaving Saeki on 12 November 1943.

[8] On 26 September 1943, [I GO] SHINKO MARU took over her UNKATO at Kure That same day she performed towing trials in the Iyo Sea before arriving later this day at Agenosho Bay, south coast of O-Shima, Yamaguchi Prefecture. On 27 September 1943, [I GO] SHINKO MARU departed Agenosho Bay with the UNKATO arriving later that day at Saeki.

Thanks go to Peter Cundall of Australia.

Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler

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