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Minekaze class destroyer
1,234 Tons (standard)
319' 11" x 336' 7" x 29' 3"
4 x 120mm guns
6 x 21" torpedo tubes
2 x 7.7mm MG
16 x mines
IJN circa 1923
AWM March 18, 1943
On March 15, 1943 the Navy garrison loaded Divine Word missionaries including Bishop Loerks, six priests, 14 brothers, 18 sisters and another woman with her two children were loaded onto Akikaze. The passenger were treated with dignity, even given a rear cabin and tea, water and bread. Their sea sickness treated by the ship's doctor. The destroyer proceeded northward and anchored off Lorengau on Manus Island overnight. On March 17, 1943 twenty more civilians were brought aboard from Manus including German missionaries, one Hungarian missionary and Chinese civilians including six woman. Now there were a total of sixty prisoners aboard the ship.
On March 18, 1943 Akikaze briefly anchored off Kavieng and accepted a message, then departed bound for Rabaul. While at sea, Captain Lt. Commander Sabe assembled all officers, and informed them that 8th Fleet HQ ordered them to dispose of all the prisoners. He commented that the order was regrettable, but must be carried out because it was an order. While steaming to Rabaul, all the civilian prisoners were moved to the forward cabin. With the destroyer steaming at full speed, a white sheet, to avoid alerting the other POW of their pending fate. Each POW was removed from the cabin and hung by their wrists from a rope and pulley, then shot. Since the ship was moving, the wind then knocked the body overboard, minimizing blood staining on the deck, and the noise of steaming at full speed avoided any undue suffering. The men were executed first, then the woman. Two Chinese children were taken from their mother's arms and thrown overboard. The execution took approximately three hours to complete. Captain Sabe then ordered a funeral service for the executed and instructed the crew not to mention the execution to anyone. Akikaze arrived at Rabaul around 10:00pm.
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