(WALES MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett

7 January 1921:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Dockyard Co. K. K. as a 6,586-ton passenger-cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ("K" Line), K. K. of Kobe.

21 June 1921:
Launched and named named WALES MARU.

20 November 1920:

Placed on "K" Lines’s westbound Around-the-World service.

4 March 1923:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Marseilles, France via Lisbon, Portugal.

22 August 1923:
Arrives at Ellis Island from Lisbon.

March 1927:
Transferred to "K" Lines’s North Pacific Express Line.

December 1934:
Transferred to "K" Line’s Central and South America route.

27 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 968.

8 December 1941:
The Pacific War begins.

17 December 1941: Operation "M" (M Sakusen) -The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
At 0900, WALES MARU departs Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan) for Lingayen Gulf, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Rear Admiral Hirose Sueto (39)(former CO of HARUNA) 3rd Lingayen Invasion Unit with 21 other IJA transports escorted by DesDiv 9's YAMAGUMO, minelayer WAKATAKA and four smaller warships.

The Japanese main invasion at Lingayen Gulf consists of three transport echelons. The first is composed of 27 transports from Takao under Rear Admiral Hara Kensaburo, the second of 28 transports under Rear Admiral Nishimura and the third under Rear Admiral Hirose. This force of 76 transports carries the main part of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army.

24 December 1941:
Between 0110 and 0430, the transports land their troops at Lingayen.

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 WALES 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.

5 April 1943:
At 0800, WALES MARU departs Surabaya, Java for Ambon, Ceram Isand, Moluccas in a convoy also consisting of FUKOKU and PENANG MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 1 escorted by destroyer ISONAMI.

9 April 1943:
Buton Passage, off SE Celebes (Sulawesi). At 0906, LtCdr William B. Sieglaff’s (USNA ‘31) USS TAUTOG (SS-199) fires six bow torpedoes at the convoy. Three at PENANG MARU, one at ISONAMI and the other two at one of the marus. PENANG MARU is hit by one torpedo portside in No. 2 hold and begins to flood. At 1323, PENANG MARU sinks by the bow at 05-29S, 123-02E. Thirteen troops, one Guard and two crewmen are KIA.

35 miles SE of Wangiwangi Island. Destroyer ISONAMI attempts to rescue PENANG MARU’s survivors, but at 1407, TAUTOG fires three torpedoes at ISONAMI and gets one hit that sinks her. Seven crewmen are KIA.

11 April 1943:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Ambon.

16 May 1943:
At 1000, WALES MARU departs Changi, Singapore for Moji carrying 950 Allied prisoners-of-war (POWs) consisting of 600 British, 300 Australians and 50 Americans.

20 May 1943:
Arrives at Cap St. Jacques, Indochina.

23 May 1943:
WALES MARU departs St. Jacques in a convoy consisting of 11 unidentified ships escorted by an unknown patrol boat.

29 May 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

2 June 1943:
At 0715, WALES MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 268 also consisting of TSUSHIMA, FUJI, UCHIDE, SHOJIN, MIYO, REIYO, BATAVIA, YAMAHAGI, KAYO, KOSO and HEIAN MARUs escorted by PB-36.

5 June 1943:
At 1013, TSUSHIMA MARU is hit by a BuOrd dud Mark 14-3A torpedo from LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Lawrence R. Daspit's (USNA ’27) USS TINOSA (SS-283), but is undamaged. PB-36 attacks with depth charges, but USS TINOSA escapes.

7 June 1943:
Arrives at Moji. Disembarks POWs.

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

28 July 1942:
Arrives at St Jacques, Indochina.

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

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

30 August 1943:
At 1300, WALES MARU departs Hong Kong for Mako in a convoy also consisting of COLUMBIA and NAPLES MARUs escorted by gunboat HASHIDATE. At about 1545, the convoy is attacked by three USAAF Curtiss P-40 "Warhawk" fighters. As a result, the convoy reverses course and arrives back at Hong Kong a 1830.

31 August 1943:
At 0100, the convoy sets out again.

1 September 1943:
At 0600, the convoy anchors off Amoy, China. WALES MARU is detached.

25 October 1943:
WALES MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy O-507 also consisting of KOKAI, SHOHO, KISO, TOTAI, YAMATO and KIBI MARUs escorted by kaibokan IKI and auxiliary minesweepers OI, TAMA MARUs and TAMA MARU No. 7.

E 26 October 1943:
The auxilary minesweepers are detached at 30N.

E 2 November 1943:
Near Palau. Auxiliary subchasers CHa-3, CHa-10 join the convoy.

November 1943:
Convoy O-507 arrives at Palau.

30 November 1943:
At 0300, WALES MARU departs Rabaul, New Britain in a convoy consisting of AWA, HIMALAYA NIKKI, SHINYU and SHOHO MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-37 and CH-38.

S of New Hanover. At 2333, the convoy is attacked by a USN Consolidated PBY "Catalina" floatplanes HIMALAYA MARU is hit by one of three incendiary bombs and set afire. At 2315, Abandon Ship is ordered. At 2334, HIMALAYA MARU sinks at 02-47S, 150-25E. HIMALAYA MARU was carrying 2,564 passengers and crew including men of the 14th Field Repair workshop, 16th Signals Regiment and 7th Supply Hospital, 645 wounded servicemen and Korean and Japanese ‘comfort women’ (prostitutes). 27 soldiers, six crewmen and two comfort women are KIA. The survivors are picked up by other ships in the convoy.

8 December 1943:
The remaining ships arrive at Palau.

7 December 1943:
At 0900, arrives at Palau.

28 January 1944:
WALES MARU departs Manila for Kau, Halmahera in convoy H-16 also consisting of FUSO, MIZUHO and SEATTLE MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-105.

8 February 1944:
Arrives at Kau.

14 February 1944:
At 1400, WALES MARU departs Wasile in convoy M-12 also consisting of FUSO, KENWA, KUROGANE MITSUKI, MIZUHO and TONEGAWA MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-105 and minesweeper W-4.

16 February 1944:
At 0145, KENWA MARU is attacked unsuccessfully by a submarine, probably LtCdr (later Captain) Henry G. Munson's (USNA ’32) USS CREVALLE (SS-291). At 2000, W-4 is detached.

5 March 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

21 April 1944:
WALES MARU departs Moji in convoy MOTA-18 also consisting of BELGIUM, KENNICHI, KUROGANE, NANREI, PEKING, SAN DIEGO, SHIROGANESAN SHIROTAE, TAKEGAWA, TSUSHIMA and YAMHAGI MARUs escorted by destroyer HARUKAZE and minesweeper W-17.

27 April 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

28 April 1944:
At 1300, WALES MARU departs Takao for Manila in convoy TAMA-17 also consisting of BELGIUM, KENNICHI, KUROGANE, NISSAN, NITTATSU, PEKING, SAN LUIS, SHIROGANESAN, SHIROTAE, TAKEGAWA, TSUSHIMA and YAMAHAGI, MARUs. destroyer HARUKAZE W-17, and auxiliary gunboat CHOJUSAN MARU

Unescorted convoy TAMA-17A departs Takao for Manila consisting of NANSHIN MARU No. 6 and two unidentified merchant ships and steams close to convoy TAMA-17 part way for escort protection.

29 April 1944:
Old destroyer ASAKAZE joins the escort. At 2155, LtCdr Anton R. Gallaher's (USNA ’33) USS BANG (SS-385) torpedoes and sinks TAKEGAWA MARU at 19-20N, 118-50E. Seven crewmen are KIA. Also lost are 17 Daihatsu barges and two lighters.

30 April 1944:
At 0430, Gallaher torpedoes and sinks NITTATSU MARU, carrying 250 tons coal at 19-22N, 118-45E. Four crewmen are killed.

2 May 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

17 May 1944:
WALES MARU departs Manila in a convoy also consisting of BIZEN and TOYO MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-43 and CH-41. WALES MARU is carrying replacements for many units units including the 74th Independent Air Company of of the Independent Flight Corps of the 5th Air Division in Burma, 3rd Meteorological Regiment (Singapore), 19th Field Air Repair Depot (Thailand), 3rd Air Army HQ (Singapore), 4th Infantry Regiment (Burma), 2nd Division 16th Infantry Regiment (Burma), 2nd Division, 5th Air Division HQ (Rangoon), 51st Infantry Regiment (Burma), 15th Division, 154th Infantry Regiment (Burma), 54th Division, 3rd Shipping Transport Command (Manila) and 2nd Shipping Engineer Regiment.

20 May 1944:
Arrives at Victoria, Labuan Island.

22 May 1944:
At 0600, departs Victoria.

23 May 1944:
About 2300, LtCdr (later Cdr) Lowell T. Stone's (USNA '29) USS LAPON (SS-260) torpedoes and sinks WALES MARU at 07-20N, 109-03E. 50 men of the Independent Flight Corps and 13 crewmen are KIA.

Author’s Note:
No data were found on WALES MARU's movements from May '42 to May '43. Readers with access to 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 Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and the late John Whitman for info on troops carried by WALES MARU on her final voyage.

Bob Hackett

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