© 1998 Allyn D. Nevitt

IJN Matsu: Tabular Record of Movement

MATSU-class (32 - ships) profile (Ships of the World)

@Updated - Allyn Nevitt - January 6, 2012

@Enhanced - Anthony Tully with Allyn Nevitt - September 2014

Name Translation: "Pine"

28 April 1944:
Completed at Maizuru; assigned same date to 11th Destroyer Squadron (Desron 11) Combined Fleet, for training. Ship's captain: Lieutenant Commander Yonei Tsuneo [60] (prev. C.O. KURI).

2 May:
Arrived at Kure.

8 May:
Sailed to Hashirajima.

14 May:
Arrived at Yashima anchorage for training.

16 May:
Cruised to Kamegawa.

20 May:
Arrived at Sukumo Bay, Shikoku Island.

21 May:
Return to Yashima anchorage. Training in general area through remainder of the month.

1 June:
Arrived at Kure for maintenance and repairs. Lieutenant Commander Yonei (to C.O. MOMI) relieved by Lieutenant Commander Yoshinaga Gen [61] (prev. C.O. AMAGIRI).

5 June:
Sailed to Murozumi port for training in the Inland Sea.

13 June:
Departed Murozumi.

14 June:
Arrived at Tokuyama via stopover at Yashima.

18 June:
Departed Tokuyama.

19 June:
Arrived at Yokosuka, Tokyo Bay. With the Battle for Saipan now raging, is assigned to join convoys rushing to re-inforce Ogasawara Islands north of Saipan. MATSU is temporarily removed from DesRon 11 and attached to Surface Fleet Escort command, 2nd Convoy Escort Group.

28 June:
Departed Yokosuka.

15 July:
Assigned to Desdiv 43 (UME, TAKE, MATSU, MOMO), Desron 11, Combined Fleet.

29 July:
Departed Tokyo Bay as flagship of Commander, 2nd Convoy Escort Group (Rear Admiral Takahashi Ichimatsu [40]). Led escort of Convoy No. 3729. Composition: Escort Force. MATSU (flagship), HATAKAZE, CD-4, CD-12, and SC-51. Convoy: SHOGEN MARU (4,739 tons) TONEGAWA MARU (4,997 tons), ENJU MARU (5,374 tons), No.7 UNKAI MARU (2,182 tons), and RYUKO MARU (5,626 tons). Also steaming in close company is a second group of two fast transports. The convoy is so important that carrier ZUIHO and FUYUZUKI sail astern of the convoy providing cover from beyond the horizon.

1 August:
Convoy arrived at Futami Harbor, Chichi-Jima. Here the convoy divides, two of the vessels proceeding to Iwo Jima carrying ammunition for the 109th Division. ZUIHO and FUYUZUKI, mission accomplished, reverse course and return to the Inland Sea. (1)

4 August:
- Action:
Departed Chichi-jima after air-raid warning, leading escort of convoy 4804 north seeking to avoid attack and return to Japan. However, enemy carriers planes from Task Force 58 en-route to attack Iwo Jima and Chichi-Jima attack the force. ENJU MARU is sunk and HATAKAZE, CD No.4 and CD No.12 are damaged in two waves of attacks by dive-bombers. A third wave in the afternoon includes torpedo planes, which almost annihilates the convoy; sinking all the marus except TONEGAWA MARU. All the escorts remain afloat and with sunset approaching after rescue operations MATSU attempts to lead them north to safety. However, they are overtaken from the southeast by a pursuing enemy surface force that was scheduled to bombard Chichi-Jima next morning. (2) There was little hope of any escaping. All the U.S. ships could do better than 30 knots; while MATSU could make about 21 knots, the kaibokan merely 17 knots, and the Maru only 11 knots. But then Takahashi radios CD-4 to stay close to and attempt to escape with TONEGAWA MARU, while MATSU turns about and boldly engages the enemy in a delaying action.

- 1828 U.S. ships opened fire on MATSU. Nine minutes later, MATSU opened fire in turn, and radioed: "We are being fired on by 10 enemy cruisers and destroyers." CD-4 picks it up, but as ordered continues to flee northwest with TONEGAWA MARU. HATAKAZE heading due north sights the gun-flashes to her south, but contnues onward. (It is seems probable that all ships were told to proceed independently and make best attempt to escape. In any case none made move to assist.)

- 1850 MATSU sends update about decision to attack: ""We are being fired on by enemy cruisers and destroyers. Am engaging." (This is her last known message, but the U.S. reports show the pattern of what followed.)

- 1910 At about this time MATSU swung left across the path of the enemy force, possibly to launch torpedoes. Then she headed eastward in a move clearly seeking to lure the enemy column east, away from the north and west where the other ships were seeking cover in the twilight. All the time she was taking shell hits from both cruisers and destroyers and returning fire, but scoring no hits.

- 1944 Realizing what was happening the American cruisers ceased fire and turned north again. A force of three destroyers (USS COGSWELL (DD-651), USS INGERSOLL (DD-652) and USS KNAPP (DD-653) was detached to close and finish off MATSU why the rest continued the pursuit. The end now came swiftly. Already down to 15 knots, at 1956 a major hit aft caused a large fire. MATSU continued to return fire with her forward guns, but at 1958 went dead in the water.

- Sunk: At 2030 the three U.S. destroyers closed to killing range under 2,000 yards but soon checked fire when saw MATSU's state, with stern submerged and 100 feet of bow projecting skyward. The image is vivid and worth partially quoting: "Ceased firing, when target was observed with forecastle vertically out of the water, on fire and sinking. Although poor visibility and smoke from fires prevented positive id, the target was observed to have a curlicue bow and raised forecastle with bridge structure abaft the break of deck." Realizing she is finished, the Americans simply boost to 30 knots and coming to northwest course draw away from the scene. Ten minutes later at about 2042 MATSU vanished from their sight and radar. She went down 50 miles northwest of Chichi-jima (27-40 N, 141-48 E). (U.S. DesDiv 100 gives: Lat 28-06'N, Long 141-44'E.) Six survivors (one died later) rescued later by the Americans, but Lieutenant Commander Yoshinaga and Rear Admiral Takahashi killed in action. (3)

Postscript: The fleeing TONEGAWA MARU was caught and went down at 2127 under gunfire of the U.S. cruisers. However, MATSU's sacrifice had bought the time for darkness to cloak the others. The U.S. warships abandoned any further pursuit and set course south leaving the area to resume their bombardment mission. By 9 August HATAKAZE, CD-12, CD-4, AND CH-51 had all reached port safely in that order. CD-4's skipper filed report of the last known moments of MATSU and Takahashi's courageous action. Takahashi was promoted posthumously to Vice-admiral, and MATSU's last fight stands as one of the renowned stories of the Long Lancers. Her crew's epitah: "If risking one's life for the sake of the convoy is the essence of the "Escort Spirit", then it must be said that both Takahashi and Yoshinaga possessed this truly." (4)

10 October 1944:
Removed from Navy List.

Notes and Sources:

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Anthony Tully and Bill Somerville for contributing from their works to this TROM.

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