Pacific Maru ぱしふいつく丸
Pacific Maru ぱしふいつく丸. 5,873 G/T. Completed 18 Nov. 1920.
Source: J. Erickson personal collection
POW voyage and ship's fate
On 28 Dec 1942 seventy four (perhaps eighty five) POWs, mostly high-ranking British and Dutch military and civilian officials, were taken to Tanjong Priok, Java, and loaded into a lower hold of the Pacific Maru. They waited in harbor until 30 Dec and then began a three day voyage to Singapore. On 10 Jan 1943, the prisoners from Java were placed aboard Aki Maru for transport to Taiwan. Little is known of the conditions aboard the ship except that the upper "tween" decks were occupied by Japanese troops and the POWs were berthed below. Given the small number of POWs aboard, the short duration, and that the Japanese usually treated senior officers and officials comparably well, the journey was probably one of the more bearable hellship voyages.
Pacific Maru was damaged in a torpedo attack by USS Wahoo (SS-238) on 26 Jan 1943 north of New Guinea (02˚37'N, 139˚42'E). The ship was repaired, only to be sunk by USS Guitarro (SS-363) west of Luzon, Philippines (15˚15'N, 119˚56'E) on 31 Oct 1944. The ship that made this journey is recorded as "Maru Roku" (unidentified ship #6) in Gregory Michno's authoritative "Death on the Hellships." Testimony from former POWs strongly suggests "Maru Roku" was Pacific Maru.
Pacific 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 wide (beam). They were capable of maximum speeds of about 14 knots when built, but 9-10 knots was more typical. Cargo was carried in four holds; two forward, and two to the rear. Each hold was divided vertically into an upper 8 ft "tween deck" and a deeper lower hold, itself often split into two levels creating a lower "tween deck" and the deep 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.
Information on the hellship voyage of "Maru Roku" was extracted primarily from, "Death on the Hellships: Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War" by Gregory F. Michno, ISBN 1557504822, US Naval Institute Press (June 2001). Michael Hurst director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society , provided information on the identify of Pacific Maru and Roger Mansell director of the Center for Research: Allied POWs Under the Japanese, provided records of POWs imprisoned on Taiwan from the
US National Archives (Record Group 407, Box 122).
Photographs and information on Taifuku Maru #1 class ships may by found at Fumio Nagasawa's Japanese language "Nostalgic Japanese Steamships" webpage.