(HIE MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2016 Bob Hackett

1 March 1941:
Innoshima (Hiroshima) Yard. Laid down as a 4,943-ton passenger-cargo ship at Osaka Machinery Works for Kita Nippon Kisen K. K., Toyko.

Launched and named HIE MARU. [1]

10 June 1941:

16 November1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 802.

E November 1941:
Assigned to the Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35) Southern Force's Borneo Invasion Group led by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo (38), in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro's (41) Miri and Seria Invasion unit.

E November 1941:
Departs Canton, China.

E December 1941:
Arrives at Camranh Bay, Indochina.

13 December 1941: Operation "B" - The Invasion of British Borneo (Sarawak):
The occupation of British Borneo is a combined IJN/IJA operation which involves Gen (later Field Marshal) Count Terauchi Hisachi’s command’s Southern Expeditionary Army. The 25th Army, under LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki fields MajGen Kawaguchi Kiyotake’s “Detachment” of about 2,500 men consisting of the 35th Infantry Brigade HQ, the 124th Infantry Regiment led by Col Oka Akinosuke, 18th Signal Unit platoon, 18th Medical Unit and 18/4 Field Hospital Medical Unit. In addition, five specialized and supply units are embarked on the transports: 21st Field Ordnance Depot Coy and 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Field Well drilling Coys of about 120 men each (oil well repairs if needed). Finally, one AA and one Signal Regiment are stationed on IJA transports. The invasion units are embarked on IJA transports HIE, KATORI, MYOHO, KENKON and NICHIRAN MARUs.

The Navy force consists of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35)(former CO of KONGO) Southern Force, Borneo Invasion Group that includes Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (38), Support Unit. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro's (41) Invasion Unit consists of his 4th Naval Construction Unit of about 260 men and materials aboard TONAN MARU No 3, the No.2 Yokosuka Special Naval Force (SNLF) aboard HOKKAI MARU. Other transports are UNYO MARU No. 2, KAMIKAWA and MITAKESAN MARUs transporting equipment, material and supplies.

The convoy’s close escort consists of minesweepers W-3 and W-6 and subchaser CH-7. Other escorts include CruDiv 7’s KUMANO and SUZUYA, light cruisers YURA and KINU, Desdiv 11’s FUBUKI, DesDiv 12’s MURAKUMO, SHINONOME, SHIRAKUMO and USUGUMO and DesDiv 20’s SAGIRI. Seaplane tender KAMIKAWA MARU with six Mitsubishi Type 0 F1M “Petes” (plus two in reserve) and four Aichi E13A1 “Jakes” (plus one in reserve) provides air cover.

At 0730, the Invasion Convoy departs Camranh Bay.

14 December 1941:
The Invasion Convoy crosses the South China Sea without being sighted. MITAKESAN MARU is detached to the Philippines.

15 December 1941:
At 2330, the main body of the convoy arrives at Miri anchorage. At midnight, HIE MARU arrives at Seria anchorage. About the same time, all IJN transports arrive at Lutong. Because of a rainstorm, three Daihatsu barges capsize when lowered into the water. 19 IJA landing troops are KIA and 15 are MIA.

16 December 1941:
At 0440, troops land at Miri, Seria and Lutong. Despite worsening weather conditions, landings are made without opposition from British defending units and Miri, Seria and Lutong oilfields as well as Miri airfield are all secured in the morning.

17 December 1941:
N of Miri, near Seria. Destroyer SHINONOME is attacked by Dutch Dornier Do-24 K-1 flying-boat X-32 of Aircraft Group GVT-7 based at Tarakan, E Borneo. Of five 200-kg bombs she drops, the X-32 scores two direct hits and a near-miss. An explosion severs SHINONOME's stern and she sinks quickly with all hands - the first FUBUKI-class destroyer sunk in WWII.

A Do-24 X-34 flying boat of GVT-7 attacks a vessel, but is intercepted by a Type O Mitsubishi F1M2 ‘Pete’ from KAMIKAWA MARU. The Dornier is forced to make an emergency landing with two of its crew dead. Two hours later, in bad weather conditions, six Dutch Glenn Martin bombers of 2-VIG-I also attack. A Pete from KAMIKAWA MARU attacks the Dutch bomber formation, but they escape. [4]

19 December 1941:
Miri. In the morning, Martin B-10 medium bombers from 1-VIG-I and 2-VIG-I based at Samarinda and Singkawang attack the invasion shipping. Four KAMIKAWA MARU’s F1M2 “Pete” floatplanes intercept separate trios of bombers that appear at 15-minute intervals. The Petes’ pilots claim downing Martin M-571 of 2-VIG-I.

20 December 1941:
Miri. About midday, six Martins of 2-VIG-I escorted by two obsolete Brewster “Buffalo” fighters attack Japanese shipping off Miri. The bomber crews miss a cruiser. F1M2s from KAMIKAWA MARU intercept and claim one bomber. The Buffaloes escape with heavy damage. That same day, an E13A1 "Jake" from KAMIKAWA MARU fails to return from a reconnaissance mission.

22 December 1941: The Invasion of Sarawak (British Borneo):
The main body of the Japanese invasion force (two battalions) re-embarks at Miri. The invasion convoy departs for Kuching, Sarawak. The invasion convoy consisting of HIE, HOKKAI, KATORI, MYOHO, KENKON and NICHIRAN MARUs, UNYO MARU No. 2, TONAN MARU No. 3 and KAMIKAWA MARUs escorted by light cruiser YURA, DesDiv 12's SHIRAKUMO, MURAKUMO and USUGUMO and minesweepers W-3 and W-6.

23 December 1941:
Early morning, about 150 miles from Kuching, a Dutch reconnaissance aircraft spots the Invasion Convoy. At 1140, twenty-four Japanese aircraft bomb Singkawang II airfield, so damaging the runways that a Dutch striking force which had been ordered to attack the convoy is unable to take off.

At 1800, the convoy approaches the mouth of the Santubong river. Subsequent landings are made with little opposition from British Forces although four Daihatsu landing craft are sunk.

Off Kuching. At 2040, Dutch Ltz I Carel A. J. van Well Groeneveld's submarine K-XIV attacks the anchored transports. He torpedoes and sinks HIE MARU (five crewmen KIA) and IJN transport KATORI MARU (10 crewmen and many troops KIA). IJN transports HOKKAI MARU and TONAN MARU No. 3 are also damaged by K-XIV’s torpedoes. HOKKAI MARU is heavily damaged and beached to prevent her sinking.

Author’s Notes:
[1] Also known as HIYOSHI MARU.

[2] Not to be confused with IJN Auxiliary Submarine Depot Ship HIE MARU (11,621-tons/1930).

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports