Kyokko Maru 旭光丸
The Kyokko Maru in its original guise--Ypres Maru イープル丸.
Photo from S.C. Heal, “Ugly Ducklings: Japan's WWII Liberty Type Standard Ships” Vancouver Maritime Museum collection.
Voyage and POWs
The Kyokko Maru sailed from Singapore on 26 April 1943 crowded with 1,000 Dutch, 300 British, and 200 Australian POWs. No medical officers were aboard and the few orderlies were severely taxed by the large number of dysentery cases aboard. The journey to Moji took almost a month, the ship arriving 21 May 1943. According to G. Michno’s “Death on the Hellships”, two Dutch POWs died that day. Fukuoka #4 records state two Dutch POWs from the Kyokko Maru died on 30 May. It is not known if these are the same or additional men. Overall, Michno described the Kyokko Maru voyage as “long but comparatively uneventful”.
The ship was completed in Sept 1920 by Harima in Aioi, Japan as the Ypres Maru (named after the British WWI battlefield) and operated by Yamashita Kisen KK. It was a comparatively large freighter of 6,783 gross tons with a length of 425 ft, and beam of 53.5 ft. It had one sistership, Seine Maru, later renamed Choko Maru and then Tyoko Maru. Kyokko Maru served the Japanese until sunk by the submarine USS Crevalle (SS-291) on 15 Nov 1943 off Zambales province Philippines (14˚53' N,119˚54' E).
Information on this page was obtained from the books: "The World's Merchant Fleets, 1939" by Roger Jordan and "Death on the Hellships" by Gregory Michno; the Miramar ship index , and Fumio Nagasawa's Nostalgic Japanese Steamships website.
Heal, Syd C. "