France Maru 佛蘭西丸

France Maru 佛蘭西丸.  5,864 G/T.  Completed 1 Nov 1919.
Photo from S.C. Heal, "Ugly Ducklings: Japan's WWII Liberty Type Standard Ships."

    On 5 Nov 1943 France Maru carried 300 British and Dutch POWs on a 5 day voyage from Tanjong Priok harbor in Batavia, Java, to Palmenbang, Sumatra.  As reported in G. Michno's, "Death on the Hellships", conditions were typical: overcrowded and filthy, and the prisoners were subjected to numerous beatings.  All the prisoners survived the journey.

Note: POW John Watts (in "Prisoners in Java: Accounts by Allied Prisoners of War in the Far East (1942-1945) Captured in Java", Hamwick Publishers, Southampton, 2007) reported that 2000 men were aboard France Maru "lying for 4 days over each other's bodies" disembarked at Palmenbang. 

Any additional information on the voyage of the France Maru would be most welcome.   


France Maru
 was sunk by US carrier-based aircraft from Task Force 38 on 12 Jan 1945, 50 miles south east of Gocong, Indo-China 
(9.35˚N,106.48˚E).


Kawasaki Stock boats

    France Maru
 was a Taifuku Maru #1 class freighter.  The Kawasaki shipyards at Kobe built 74 of these ships for Japanese and foreign customers in 1916-1920.  They were widely known as Kawasaki stock boats or standard steamers.  Based on a British WWI standard ship design, these flush decked ships had a gross tonnage of approximately 5,870 tons, were 385 feet long and 51 feet at the beam.  They were capable of maximum speeds of about 14 knots, but usually sailed at 9-10 knots.  Cargo was carried in four holds; two forward, and two to the rear.  Each was divided vertically into an upper 8 ft "tween deck" and a deeper lower hold.  The following Kawasaki stock boats are known to have transported Allied POWs:  Brazil Maru, Celebes Maru, England Maru, France Maru, Hofuku Maru, Nagato Maru, Pacific Maru, Singapore Maru, Thames Maru, Tofuku Maru, Ube Maru, and Washington Maru.

References

Information on the hellship voyage of the France Maru was extracted from, "Death on the Hellships: Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War" by Gregory F. Michno,  ISBN 1557504822, US Naval Institute Press (June 2001).

Photographs and information on Taifuku Maru #1 class ships may by found at Fumio Nagasawa's Japanese language "Nostalgic Japanese Steamships" webpage.

Heal, Syd C. "Ugly Ducklings: Japan's WWII Liberty Type Standard Ships" Naval Institute Press, 2003.  ISBN 159114888X, 9781591148883



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