Voyage and POWs
The Clyde Maru left Manila on 23 July 1943, delivering 500 American POWs to Moji Japan on 9 August. The prisoners were packed in the wooden kennel-like structures typical of Japanese troop transports on the lower 'tween' deck of the freighter. The floor and hatch to the lower hold had been covered with wood planks that had become permeated with the smell of horse urine from an earlier voyage. Despite the miserable, filthy conditions, all of the POWs survived the voyage to Japan. The lack of deaths aboard ship reflected, in part, the somewhat better food, more abundant water, and the less crowded conditions than were present on the disastrous voyages of the Tofuku Maru, Singapore Maru, and Dainichi Maru in Oct-Nov 1942. Those 3 voyages exacted a toll of more than 500 allied prisoners, either aboard the ships, or within two months of their arrivals in Japan. In contrast, the first two deaths among those who traveled on the Clyde Maru occurred in late Dec 1943, some three months after the men had opened camp Fukuoka #17 in Omuta, Kyushu. Unfortunately, 19 more deaths would follow due to the hellish conditions in the Mitsui company coal mine where the men toiled as slave laborers until the war's end, and to the terrible conditions at camp #17, widely considered to have been the most brutal in Japan.
Clyde Maru was named after the River Clyde, a major shipbuilding site in Scotland. The ship was one of about than twenty five Yoshida Maru No. 1 class freighters designed by Asano Shipbuilding company in Tsurumi, and built by Asano and several other companies between 1918 and 1926. These 400 ft, 5,450 G/T freighters were capable of speeds of 10.5-11.5 knots. Three Asano standard ships, Clyde Maru, Erie Maru, and Yoshida Maru No. 1 are known to have transported allied prisoners of war. Clyde Maru was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Picuda (SS-382) in the Taiwan straights (25˚20' N, 121˚06' E) on 29 Jan 1945.
Larger, clearer, images of Yoshida Maru No.1 class ships can be found at the State Library of New South Wales Manuscripts, Oral History, and Pictures catalogue. Click to link to their search engine. Be sure to click on all figures for largest possible (full screen) image. Search for: Fukuyo Maru (aka Hoshu Maru), Hayo Maru, and Heiyei Maru (aka Uralsan Maru, Nichiren Maru).
Fumio Nagasawa's Historic Japanese Steamship pages have a wealth of information about merchant ships. The most topical pages are: http://homepage3.nifty.com/jpnships/taisho/taisho_asano_bclass.htm and http://homepage3.nifty.com/jpnships//company/toyokisen_taishoki.htm#meiyomaru . I thank Fumio for sharing his image of the Clyde Maru.
Death tolls from Tofuku Maru, Singapore Maru, and Dainichi Maru from my unpublished research.