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  Yamaura Maru
IJN
Passenger and Cargo

442' x 59' x 34'
6,798 Tons
2 x 120mm deck guns
1 x 12mm MG
2 x 7.7mm MG

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USN Nov 15, 1942

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USN 1944
Ship History
Built by Uraga Dock Company in Uraga for for Yamashita Kisen K. K. (Yamashita Steamship Company) of Kobe. Laid down July 28, 1937 with Yard No. 418. Launched November 30, 1937 as Yamaura Maru. Completed March 2, 1938 and began civilian service as a passenger and cargo vessel. On May 15, 1939 crossed the Panama Canal. On November 30, 1939 arrives Buenos Aires aboard are Jewish immigrants escaping Eurpoe.

Wartime History
On November 8, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and converted into a troop transport of the Yamabiko Maru Class armed with two deck guns and three machine guns for anti-aircraft defense. Assigned Army number 970.

On January 12, 1942 departs Hong Kong as part of the Japanese invasion force bound for the Molucca Islands in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Embarks the Japanese Army, 38th Division "Sendai", 228th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion. On January 29, 1942 after midnight departs Bangka Anchorage near Menado with the invasion force bound for Ambon. During the night of January 30-31, 1942 lands troops on the southern coast at Laitamor and supports the invasion of Ambon.

On February 12, 1942 at 5:00am departs Ambon with Japanese personnel aboard as part of the invasion force bound for Timor. On February 18, 1942 placed under temporarily under Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) control as part of the second echelon breaks off from the main force with escorts bound for East Timor. On February 20, 1942 around 12:30am arrives northwest of Dili and at 2:18am begins landing to the west at the mouth of the Carmona River and supports the invasion force until departing four days later with Kasuga Maru escorted by PB-1 and PB-2. On February 25, 1942 arrives at Kupang.

Afterwards, returns to Japan. On May 28, 1942 departs Hesaki as part of a convoy via the Bungo Straits along with Nagara Maru, Otowasan Maru and Ryoyo Maru escorted by Nasami.

On October 2, 1942 arrives at Simpson Harbor off Rabaul as part of a convoy with other transports likely including Brisbane Maru, Naka Maru, Shinanogawa Maru and Yamazuki Maru plus several other vessels and escorts. Afterwards, departs to deliver supplies at Buna on the north coast of New Guinea.

On October 5, 1942 Yamaura Maru escorted by a pair of destroyers to deliver supplies to Japanese forces at Buna, escorted by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai and 3rd Kokutai. Off the coast of New Guinea, attacked by a pair of B-25s from the 38th Bomb Group. The escorting fighters shot down B-25D "Battlin' Biffie" 41-29701. The other, B-25D "Tokyo Sleeper" dropped a single 500lbs bomb aimed at this tranport, landing roughly 100' ahead and claimed a near miss but inflicted no damage.

On Noember 12, 1942 departs Rabaul bound for Shortland Harbor transporting the 38th Division, SNLF, equipment and supplies as part of a convoy consisting of eleven transports escorted by eleven destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka that planned to unload on the northwest coast of Guadalcanal.

The Yamaura Maru was part of the No, 2 Butai reinforcement group of eleven transports transporting the 38th Division, Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), equipment and supplies bound for Guadalcanal. The transport force was divided into two groups. The No. 1 Butai of five ships included the Canberra Maru, Hirokawa Maru, Nagara Maru, Nako Maru and Sado Maru were to unload near Tassafaronga. The No. 2 Butai of six ships including the Yamaura Maru, Arizona Maru, Brisbane Maru, Kinugawa Maru, Shinanogawa Maru and Yamatsuki Maru were to unload at Argulio Point near Cape Esperence. Escorting were twelve destroyers including Amagiri, Hayashio, Kagero, Kawakaze, Makinami, Mochizuki, Naganami, Oyashio, Suzukaze, Takanami and Umikaze.

On November 13, 1942 the transports and escorting destroyers depart Shortland Harbor bound to arrive during the night off Guadalcanal. Enroute, the force was recalled back to Shortland Harbor due to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal underway in the same area.

On November 13, 1942 the convoy again departs Shortland Harbor but were spotted by U. S. aircraft in the afternoon.

On November 14, 1942 in the morning U. S. aircraft attacked the convoy, overwhelming their escorts and sank six of the transports and damaged another, forcing it to turn back and later sink. The remaining four transports plus four destroyers continued to Guadalcanal. After dark, they stopped to the west, awaiting the conclusion of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal during the night of November 14-15, 1942.

Sinking History
On November 15, 1942 at 4:00am the remaining four transports Kinugawa Maru, Hirokawa Maru, Yamaura Maru, and Yamatsuki Maru beached on the north coast of Guadalcanal. Yamaura Maru beached near Tenaro to the east is the mouth of the Umasani River and beyond to the west was Domo Cove.

Immediately the Japanese began unloading the vessel. Starting at 5:55am, American aircraft from Henderson Field plus field artillery began bombarding the beached ship. Later, USS Meade DD-602 approached and opened fire with her 5" guns for an hour leaving the ship "blazing with many internal explosions". These attacks set the transports afire and destroyed most equipment not unloaded before dawn. Approximately 2,000 troops with 260 cases of ammunition and 1,500 bags of rice made ashore. Most of the ammunition and food supplies were lost.

Shipwreck
Yamaura Maru beached in shallow water off Tenaro. The hull was heavily damaged by gunfire and bombing with the center smoke stack damaged and leaning forward and the port amidships bent inward with shell holes in the port side. After the conclusion of the Guadalcanal campaign, the shipwreck was extensively photographed by U. S. personnel. Postwar, the shipwreck was largely scrapped and is no longer visible above the surface.

Ewan Stevenson adds:
"I have snorkeled the remains of this transport. Not much left."

References
Combined Fleet - Yamaura Maru: Tabular Record of Movement
Sun Setters of the Southwest Pacific Area pages 77-78
Thanks to Ewan Stevenson and Peter Flahavin for additional information

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

 

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