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09 Sep 2021 6:20 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "The Sinking of Prisioner of War Transport Ships in..." to "The Sinking of Prisoner of War Transport Ships in..."

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2021 4:15 p.m. PST

… THE FAR EAST

"Between 12 and 18 September 1944, Allied forces sank three Japanese steamships that were carrying supplies to support the Japanese war effort. But unknown to the Allies at the time, these ships were also carrying Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and Javanese slave labourers (romushas). The Allies sank other POW transport ships during September 1944, but the sinking of the Kachidoki Maru and the Rakuyo Maru on 12 September led to the first eyewitness accounts being given by former POWs to Allied administrations about conditions in camps on the Thailand-Burma railway, whilst the sinking of the Junyo Maru on 18 September was one of the deadliest maritime disasters of the Second World War. The two sinkings, only six days apart, resulted in the deaths of over 7,000 men.

The Kachidoki Maru was the largest of these steamships at over 500 feet long and more than 10,000 tons. She was torpedoed, along with the Rakuyo Maru, on 12 September 1944 by US submarines whilst en route to mainland Japan from Singapore. The Junyo Maru, the smallest steamship at 400 feet long and 5,000 tons, was torpedoed by a British submarine on 18 September off the western coast of Sumatra. When these steamships were sunk, the prisoners and slave labourers on board were all either returning from, or journeying to, the railways upon which they had been designated to work.

More than 1,300 POWs were packed on board the Rakuyo Maru and a further 900 onto the Kachidoki Maru at the docks at Keppel Habour, Singapore, on 6 September 1944. These men had laboured on the Thailand-Burma railway – a 250-mile construction project upon which the POWs had been forced to work since June 1942. Approximately 100,000 romushas and 12,000 POWs lost their lives as a result of the brutal conditions under which they were forced to work. Although the main construction work on the railway had been completed by October 1943, the men were still suffering from the effects of severe malnutrition and tropical diseases such as malaria, dysentery and beri-beri. In this condition, those who were to be transported from Singapore to jobs elsewhere were crammed into the holds of the ships with the hatches closed – 'a layer of men lying shoulder to shoulder' recalled Australian private Philip Beilby – with a shelf above them to contain another layer of men. Rudimentary toilet facilities – boxes over the side of the deck – were at their disposal (IWM SR 23824)…"
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Armand

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2021 4:30 p.m. PST

HMCS Skeena – Meet One of the Toughest Warships of the Battle of the Atlantic

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Armand

Murvihill14 Sep 2021 5:44 a.m. PST

The bug strikes. Confusing, the British had a river class of frigates, 1200 tons and 20 knots primarily for ASW work while the Canadians apparently bundled all their destroyers into a River class that was entirely different.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2021 3:23 p.m. PST

Thanks!

Armand

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