(TATSUHA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett

E 1917:
Port Glascow, Scotland, UK. Laid down at Russell & Co., Ltd. shipyard as Yard No 707, a 5,697-ton passenger-cargo ship for Gow Harrison & Co, Glasgow.

27 September 1918:
Launched and named VIRGILIA.


Sold to the Cunard Steamship Co., Ltd., Liverpool and placed on the Cunard Line’s London to New York cargo service.

22 December 1919:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York.

9 October 1921:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York.

Sold to James Chambers & Co., Lancashire Shipping Co. Ltd., Liverpool and renamed CORBY CASTLE.

Sold to Tatuuma Kisen K. K., Nishinomiya and renamed TATSUHA MARU.

23 November 1935:
As a result of the seamen's union general strike, TATSUHA MARU is idled in Wakamatsu harbor as well as 29 other vessels in other ports throughout Japan.

1937: Second Sino–Japanese War.
Chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport.

12-13 August 1937:
Departs Kobe carrying the 4th Company of the IJA 40th Infantry Regiment.

18 August 1937:
Arrives at Arrives at Taku (near Tianjin), China and lands troops.


E 1938:
Released by the IJA back to her owners.


8 December 1941:
The Pacific War begins.

Chartered by the IJA.

29 May 1942:
At 1030, TATSUHA MARU departs Futtsu, Tokyo Bay for Miike in a convoy also consisting of cargo ships GYOKO, HAKKO, MATSUMOTO and SHICHISEI MARUs and tanker KYOEI MARU No.3 escorted by destroyer HATAKAZE.

30 April 1943:
TATSUHA MARU departs Imari Bay in convoy SA-13 also consisting of MAKO, MENADO, RYUKO, SEIAN, SHISEN and TAITO MARUs and KOTO MARU No. 2 Go escorted by minelayer TAKASHIMA. Most of the convoy is bound for Shanghai.

2 May 1943:
At about 1000, arrives in the Chusan (Zhoushan) Islands.

20 September 1943:
TATSUHA, GINREI, JINZAN, KENZUI, MIYO and TOSEI MARUs join convoy No. 205 that departed Mako for Moji on 19 September consisting of CHINA, DENMARK, FUKUJU, HOKUAN, KYOKKO, NICHIEI, SEIZAN and TEIKO MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-2 and auxiliary TOYO MARU No. 3.

24 September 1943:
At 1600, the convoy arrives at Moji, less HOKUAN MARU that was detached earlier.

29 September 1943:
Released by the IJA and then requisitioned as a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 536.

24 October 1943:
TATSUHA MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 774 also consisting of IKOMASAN, JUNYO, KOHOKU, NICHINAN, SHIRANESAN, TOHO and TOYAMA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KURETAKE.

28 October 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

6 November 1943:
At 0900, TATSUHA MARU departs Cebu, Philippines for Halmahera, Moluccas in convoy H-3 also consisting of NICHINAN, TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA), TOHO and TOYAMA MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-103.

10 November 1943:
At 0830, arrives at Kau, Halmahera.

27 January 1944:
Departs Ujina and rendezvous with RYUKO, ZUIKAI and SHINKYO MARUs at Yokohama.

5 February 1944:
Departs Tateyama, but returns because of bad weather.

6 February 1944:
TATSUHA MARU departs Tateyama via Tokuyama for Truk in convoy No. 3206 also consisting of IJA transports GYOTEN (ex-British EMPIRE MOONBEAM) and SHINKYO MARUs and IJN cargo ships RYUKO and ZUIKAI MARUs escorted by destroyer FUJINAMI, kaibokan AMAKUSA, minelayer NATSUSHIMA and subchaser CH-31. The convoy is carrying troops of the IJA’s 52nd Infantry Division. TATSUHA MARU is carrying 1, 050 troops of the 2nd Battalion of the 69th Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Battalion of the 150th Infantry Regiment, Transport Unit, Field Hospital troops, Tank Unit and 16 light tanks, ammunition, fuel, food and ordnance.

9 February 1944:
Arrives at Hachijo-jima, Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands and departs.

15 February 1944:
Subchaser CH-24 departs Truk to rendezvous with convoy No. 3206 some 150 miles N of Truk, but does not find the convoy.

17 February 1944:
Auxiliary minesweeper HAGOROMO MARU joins the escort.

185 miles NW of Truk. At 0228 (JST), LtCdr (later MOH/Rear Admiral-Ret) Richard H. O’Kane's (USNA'34) USS TANG (SS-306) fires four torpedoes and gets two hits on GYOTEN MARU at 08-02N, 149-17E. She was carrying HQ, 1st Battalion, Gun Unit, Engineer Company and part of the Supply Unit of the 150th Infantry Regiment, Division Medical Unit, Veterinary, Hospital and Ordnance units. At 0320, GYOTEN MARU splits in two and sinks a few minutes later. The escorts counter-attack unsuccessfully. The remaining ships in the convoy rescue about 1,000 survivors.

American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk:
In the early morning, Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA '10) Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers launch air attacks on Truk. Mitscher launches 30 strikes of at least 150 aircraft each. At about 1400, some of Mitscher’s planes attack convoy No. 3206. At 1420, ZUIKAI MARU is attacked by six Douglas SBD “Dauntless” dive-bombers from USS INTREPID (CV-11) and hit by three 1,000 lb. bombs.

75 miles W of Truk. At 1423, TATSUHA MARU is attacked by four SBD dive-bombers from INTREPID and hit by a 1,000 bomb amidships near the stack that blows off her bridge. The explosion kills almost the entire bridge crew and many of the senior Army officers aboard. She sinks at 07-48N, 150-27E and takes down 535 soldiers and crewmen. The 52nd Division’s tank unit loses all its tanks.

Destroyer FUJINAMI, already carrying many hundreds of GYOTEN MARU's survivors, takes aboard so many drifting officers and men of TATSUHA MARU that she has to stop rescuing men for fear of capsizing. Altogether, FUJINAMI, RYUKO and SHINKYO MARUs rescue 800 personnel from TATSUHA MARU, but 500 men are MIA.

At 1740, ZUIKAI MARU also sinks.

20~24 February 1944:
FUJINAMI carries survivors to Palau.

Author’s Notes:
[1] Thanks go to the late John Whitman and to Fontessa-san of Japan. Thanks also go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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