Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2017 Bob Hackett

West Hartlepool (Sunderland), England. Laid down at Irvine's Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., as a 5, 236-ton cargo ship for The Shipping Controller (WWI), London.

Launched and named WAR UNICORN.

During construction sold to Dragon Steamship Co. (Emlyn Jones & Co) of Cardiff, Wales, UK and renamed EMLYNIAN.

April 1920:

Sold to N. Gauna Corral, Bilbao, Panama. Renamed BOLIVAR.

Sold to Bright Navigation Co, Panama. Renamed BRIGHTORIAN.

Sold to H.C. Wan, Tsingtao (Qingdao), China. Renamed KAO SING.

December 1937:
Sold to Yamashita Kisen K. K, Kobe. Renamed YAMAGIKU MARU. [1][2]

July 1941:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Kobe for New Zealand.

July 1941: Operation "FU" - The occupation of Southern French Indochina:
Japanese and French collaboratist authorities arrive at an "understanding" regarding the use of air facilities and harbors in Southern Indochina and the next day Japanese forces occupy airfields in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) at Tan Son Nhut, Thudaumot and Bien Hoa and bases at Soc Trang, Nha Trang. Tourane (Da Nang) and Siemreap, Pnom Penh and Kompong-tom in Cambodia. IJN vessels also move into the ports of Saigon, Tourane and Camranh Bay. IJA tanks clank through Saigon's colonial streets.

28 July 1941:
Two Royal New Zealand Air Force No. 1 (GR) Squadron “Vildebeests” conduct a search for YAMAGIKU MARU because of the Japanese occupation of Southern Indochina. YAMAGIKU MARU is not found. The New Zealand authorities conclude that she was recalled to Japan.

2 August 1941:
YAMAGIKU MARU arrives at Auckland, New Zealand five days later than scheduled. Her captain claims that his ship had been delayed by unfavorable weather. He denies that he had been awaiting instructions from Japan because of the international situation.

11 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Assigned Army No. 934.

18 December 1941: The Invasion of the Philippines -“M” Operation (M Sakusen):
At 1700, BUYO MARU departs Takao, Formosa for Lingayen Gulf, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Rear Admiral Hara Kensaburo's (37)(former CO of TAKAO) 1st Lingayen Invasion Unit with 27 other IJA transports escorted by DesRon 5's light cruiser NATORI, DesDiv 5's ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE and MATSUKAZE, DesDiv 22's FUMIZUKI, MINAZUKI, NAGATSUKI and SATSUKI, minesweepers W-15 and W-16 and subchasers CH-1, CH-2, CH-3 CH-13, CH-14 and CH-15.

The Japanese main invasion at Lingayen Gulf consists of three transport echelons and carries the main part of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army. The first echelon is composed of 27 transports from Takao under Rear Admiral Hara , the second echelon of 28 transports under Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji (39) and the third echelon of 21 transports from Keelung under Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto (39).

24 December 1941:
Lingayen Gulf. Between 0110 and 0430, the Lingayen Invasion Convoy lands troops at Lingayen.

23 December 1942:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Mutsure in convoy No. 106 also consisting of KOAN, KUWAYAMA, NICHIRAN, NICHIRIN, NICHIREN, RIKKO and TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA) MARUs and NISSHIN MARU No. 2 escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.

28 December 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

30 November 1943:
At 0700, YAMAGIKU MARU departs Balikpapan, Borneo in convoy 2612 also consisting of FRANCE and NICHIRYO MARUs escorted by patrol boats PB-2 auxiliary minesweeper Wa-103 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-37.

1 December 1943:
At 2205, LtCdr (later Cdr) Thomas W. Hogan's (USNA ’31) USS BONEFISH (SS-223) torpedoed and sinks NICHIRYO MARU carrying 18 passengers and 3,300-tons of nickel ore, at 01-28N, 120-53E. Six passengers, one guard and 18 crewmen are KIA. The convoy immediately reverses course.

2 December 1943:
At 0040, arrives at Kabetan Bay.

3 December 1943:
At 0700, departs Kabetan Bay.

5 December 1943:
SHIRANESAN MARU joins the convoy.

7 December 1943:
At 1020, arrives at Palau.

17 December 1943:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Palau for Wewak, New Guinea in convoy “Wewak No. 15” also consisting of KAYO, SAMARANG and UMEGAWA MARUs escorted by minelayer SHIRATAKA, subchaser CH-32 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-3

21 December 1943:
Arrives at Wewak.

22 December 1943:
The convoy departs Wewak.

27 December 1943:
Arrives at Palau, Carolines.

1 January 1944:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Palau for Ujina in convoy FU-104 also consisting of FUKKO, SAMARANG and UMEGAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer HARUKAZE.

E 9 January 1944:
At 28N, convoy FU-104 is joined by minelayer NUWAJIMA.

E 10 January 1944:
NUWAJIMA is detached off Fukajima.

12 January 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

15 March 1944:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Otaru, W Hokkaido for the Uruppu Islands, Kuriles in a convoy als0 consisting of KEIAN, UMEGAWA and NICHIREN MARUs escorted by destroyers KASUMI, SHIRAKUMO and USUGUMO. The convoy is carrying elements of the IJA 130th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Division for the defense of the Cenral Kuriles.

16 March 1944:
Arrives at Kushiro, SE Hokkaido. At 1546, departs. At 2335, LtCdr William B. Sieglaff’s (USNA ‘31) USS TAUTOG (SS-199) torpedoes and sinks destroyer SHIRAKUMO instantly with all hands at 42-18N, 144-55E. The convoy reverses course, but shortly thereafter, Sieglaff torpedoes and sinks NICHIREN MARU. She breaks in two amidships and sinks at 42-18N, 145-11E. 1,850 of 1,895 troops she was carrying, plus eight gunners and 66 crewmen are KIA, most in the freezing water. Only 35 men are rescued.

27 March 1944:
At 0800, the convoy redeparts Kushiro.

2 April 1944:
Arrives at Tenni, Kuriles.

3 April 1944:
At about 1005, a submarine is detected astern of the convoy. A seaplane is summoned and bombs the submarine. The pilot claims a sinking, but this is not confirmed by Allied sources. At 1245, the convoy arrives at the Uruppu Islands, Kuriles.

20 May 1944:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Moji in convoy MOTA-20 also consisting of HAKUSHIKA, HIBI, HOKUSHIN, HOSEN, JUNPO, KAIKO (851 gt), KOSHIN, MACASSAR, TATEBE (KEMBU), TATSUHATO and TEIFU (ex-Vichy French BOUGAINVILLE) MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KURETAKE. Convoy MOTA-20 joins convoy TE-07 consisting of HIDA and TEIKA (ex-Vichy French CAP VARELLA MARUs) and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan FUKUE and SHIMUSHU.

25 May 1944:
Convoy TE-07 is detached for Kirun (Keelung), Formosa.

26 May 1944:
Convoy MOTA-20 arrives at Takao, Formosa.

28 May 1944:
YAMAGIKU MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMA-20 also consisting of KAIKO MARU (851 gt), HAKUSHIKA, HAKUBASAN, HIBI, HOKUSHIN, HOSEN, JUNPO, KOSHIN,MACASSAR, TATEBE (KEMBU), TATSUHATO, TEIFU (ex-Vichy French BOUGAINVILLE), TEIKA (ex-Vichy French CAP VARELLA) MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KURETAKE and kaibokan CD-11.

1 June 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

12 June 1944:
At 0800, YAMAGIKU MARU departs Manila for Wasili, Halmahera Island in convoy H-29 also consisting of FRANCE, HIBI, JUNPO, KURAMASAN, MACASSAR and TAIYU MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-10, patrol boats PB-103 and PB-105 and subchaser CH-45

17 June 1944:
HIBI MARU is detached for Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines.

23 June 1944:
At 1710, convoy H-29 arrives at Halmahera Island.

25 June 1944:
At 0550, YAMAGIKU MARU departs Wasili for Manila in convoy M-25 also consisting of FRANCE, JUNPO, KURAMASAN, MACASSAR and TAIYU MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-10, patrol boats PB-103 and PB-105.

28 June 1944:
Moro Gulf, 35 miles east of Zamboanga. At 0712, LtCdr Ian C. Eddy’s (USNA ’30) USS PARGO (SS-264) torpedoes YAMAGIKU MARU. She explodes and catches fire. At 0720, YAMAGIKU MARU sinks by the stern at 06-50N, 121-32E. Three crewmen are KIA. PARGO also torpedoes and possibly damages CD-10.

Author's Note:
[1] Also known as YAMAGISU MARU and YAMAKIKU MARU.

[2] Possibly captured by the Japanese as a war prize, rather than sold to them.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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