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Nichimei Maru

Nichimei Maru

Operator Nissan Kisen
Gross tonnage 4,693 tons
Departure point Penang, Malaya Peninsula
Departure date 11 January 1943
Destination Moulmein, Burma
No. of POWs Dutch 965
Location of disaster Gulf of Martaban, 50 NM south of Moulmein, Burma (Myanmar)
Date of disaster 15:15~15:50, 15 January 1943
POW casualties approx. 40 Dutch
POW survivors approx. 925
Photo Courtesy of Alfred Nobel

On 15 January, a small convoy consisting of Nichimei Maru and Moji Maru (Dutch and Australian POWs aboard) escorted by an auxiliary net layer Chuko Maru and Submarine Chaser No. 8 was steaming to the north toward Moulmein, when they were attacked by US B-24s' level bombings from high-altitudes. On their first run, three bombs nearly missed to hit Nichimei Maru. On their second run, however, one bomb hit her between No. 2 hold and the engine room, another bomb hit the bridge, and others became near misses. Nichimei Maru came to a stop, rapidly listed to 15 degrees and sank in 30 minutes.

Of the 1,562 Japanese soldiers aboard, 97 were killed along with five gunners and crewmen. A load of rails, hundreds picks and shovels and a locomotive were reported to have been lost. Moji Maru circled the nearby waters for three hours to rescue all the survivors. The surviving POWs arrived at 18 kilo Camp via Moulmein and Thanbuzayat.

Note: On 31 May 1943, remains of the victims were found in the Indian Ocean off Tavoy, Burma. (from the Internet)