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Old 8th February 2011, 13:17
Col Bruggy Col Bruggy is offline
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PoW Convoy attacked off Moulmein 15-1-1943


Seeking help in identifying the Allied aircraft that attacked a 3-vessel PoW convoy off Moulmein on 15-1-1943. The vessels were the MOJI MARU, NITMEI MARU (NICHIMEI MARU), and a smaller naval escort ship. The aircraft were reported to be Liberators, according to eyewitnesses. The NITMEI MARU was sunk, with the loss of many crew and PoWs aboard.

Any help appreciated, including pointers to further information on this incident.


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Old 8th February 2011, 15:43
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: PoW Convoy attacked off Moulmein 15-1-1943

Here is what is said by the official USN chronology:

"USAAF B-24s bomb Japanese convoy, sinking army cargo ship Nichimei Maru and damaging army cargo ship Moji Maru, about 200 miles south-southwest of Rangoon, Burma, 13°30'N, 97°30'E. Unknown to the aviators, Nichimei Maru is transporting Allied POWs, 500 of whom are lost. "


AFAIK, B-24s in this area on this date should belong to 7th BG, and bingo, here is what is written in the book ""7th Bombardment Group/Wing, 1918-1995", by Robert F. Dorr:

"On 15 January 1943, seven B-24s of 9th BS, 7th BG, took off from "Panda" airfield at 5.30 a.m. to search for Japanese shipping south of Rangoon. One bomber aborted,; and six pressed on. Each bomber carried nine 500-lb demolition bombs. The crews sighted two merchant vessels and a sub chaser and made runs on the three ships, sinking one and damaging another. Antiaircraft fire was described as "... low and ineefective...," no Japanese aircraft were seen, and no B-24s were lost. This was a typical trip to Rangoon, lasting twelve hours thirty minutes, with the bombers recovering at 6:00 p.m."

The book then continued by saying that the attacked ships were carrying prisoners and that 'Tokyo Rose' admitted some days later the loss of the ship but also said to the American pilots that they had killed scores of POWs.

By the way, "Panda" = Pandasewar air base, India

More details on the attack here:

Rather curiously, the TROM of the escort vessel, CH-8, said both Japanese ships were carrying IJA troops:

9 January 1943:
CH-8 departs Singapore for Rangoon, Burma with auxiliary netlayer CHOKO MARU escorting convoy S-23 consisting of MOJI and NICHIMEI MARUs carrying IJA troops.

15 January 1943:
170 miles NW of Mergui, Burma. Convoy S-23 is attacked several times by Allied bombers. NICHIMEI MARU suffers several bomb hits and near misses. At 1550, she sinks. 97 troops and five crewmen and gunners are lost.


Truth is probably that both IJA troops and POWs were aboard ???
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Old 8th February 2011, 18:05
Col Bruggy Col Bruggy is offline
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Re: PoW Convoy attacked off Moulmein 15-1-1943

Hi Laurent,

Thanks for that. Will chase up the various links.

Truth is, there were Japanese troops and PoW's on board.

On 11 October 1942, a party of Australians, American and Dutch under the command of Lt-Col Tharp US Army, left Batavia for Singapore on the DAI NICHI MARU. They arrived in Singapore after a hellish trip on 16 October 1942. They stayed in Changi until 7 January 1943. Then, basically the same party of men, except for a few sick left behind and a few recovered from Lt-Col Williams/Lt-Col Chris Black's party plus some Dutch to make up the numbers, departed Singapore by train. They were taken to Prai and then embarked on the MOJI MARU at Prai on the 9th January 1943. They waited in the harbour until 12th January 1943, when they were joined by another transport (the MITMEI MARU/NICHIMEI MARU), with Dutch PoWs and Japanese on board, and a small naval escort vessel.

On 15th January 1943, at 1530 hrs (Japanese time), the convoy was attacked by Allied long-range aircraft. At least one Liberator was sighted. The MITMEI MARU (NICHIMEI MARU) was sunk with the loss of some 400-500 Japanese and about 40 Dutch PoWs, of about 1,000 on board. MOJI MARU was twice near missed by bombs. 7 PoWs killed, and many others wounded. Many Japanese (on MOJI MARU), killed and wounded. Aft gun blew up, killing its crew, forward gun, trained aft, narrowly missed blowing the bridge to smithereens. Aircraft departed... MOJI MARU circled round picking up survivors from other vessel. Sunday, 17th January 1943, MOJI MARU put in to Moulmein.

Diary of Major L J Robertson, RAE. OC Australian personnel of the Thai POW Branch 5A (working in) Burma 1943-44.

AWM PR87/0158

The above (slightly edited account), kindly supplied to me by Mrs Ann Holland, of Melbourne, Australia.

Thanks once again.


Last edited by Col Bruggy; 9th February 2011 at 00:59.
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