Oryoku Maru, Olongapo History

A01. Za301. This attacked ship is not the infamous Oryoku Maru, it looks more like freighter and it was attacked on the 19th Nov 1944 and not in Dec. 1944 when the Oryoku Maru was attacked and sunk in Olongapo. David Demether provided this picture.

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Oryoku Maru was an Imperial Japanese Hell Ship with about 1600 Allied POWs and was sunk in Olongapo in Dec. 1944. Most of these Allied POWs died on their journey due to Japanese war crimes. In Olongapo a Hell Ships memorial was erected and one of the ships guns is displayed there.
This is one of many websites informing us of this tragedy and I have contributed to it; click here or copy and paste:

http://corregidor.proboards.com/thread/1601/oryoku-maru

Most picture in this album came from this web site!

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A01. Za301. This attacked ship is not the infamous Oryoku Maru, it looks more like freighter and it was attacked on the 19th Nov 1944 and not in Dec. 1944 when the Oryoku Maru was attacked and sunk in Olongapo. David Demether provided this picture.

-I love this picture because that is the clearest picture I seen of how the hinterland of the Olongapo Port,-Town and the Olongapo Naval Station looked like!

A02. Za303. Oryoku Maru sinking and POWs abandon ship in Subic Bay. This picture was provided by David Demether.
Note from dmether: Famous picture, can see the POW’s swimming. This is the tragedy of the Allied POWs suffering death and hurt from friendly fire and the criminal action by Imperial Japan!

A03. Zo138 Three POWs escaped from the sinking Oryoku Maru as reported by Capt. Ramon Magsaysay (later the President of the Philippines). This document was found and was provided by Bub Hudson. Amazing, I never knew that. Thank you Olongapo and area Guerillas.

A04. Zo139 Three POWs escaped from the sinking Oryoku Maru as reported by Capt. Ramon Magsaysay (later the President of the Philippines). This document was found and was provided by Bub Hudson. Amazing, I never knew that. Thank you Olongapo and area Guerillas.

A05. Zo140 Three POWs escaped from the sinking Oryoku Maru as reported by Capt. Ramon Magsaysay (later the President of the Philippines). This document was found and was provided by Bub Hudson. Amazing, I never knew that. Thank you Olongapo and area Guerillas.

    More information about the Oryoku Maru

From: John Duresky, who is a member of the Army Lt. Chester K. Britt Research Team. We have this forum page URL about the Army Lt. Chester K. Britt book project, or click here:

https://corregidor.proboards.com/thread/2275/army-chester-britt-ship-oryoku

John wrote me this on the 13th July 2020:

Karl, check this out or click here:

http://y294ma.livedoor.blog/archives/17965797.html

I’ve become friends with this blogger in Japan, Mr. Yasuhiro Fukushima. He was 7 when his father died of Malaria at a hospital on Kyushu in 1943 after being evacuated from Rabaul, he was a sergeant in the IJA who never saw combat. He has been very helpful. Don’t know if I told you, but I speak pretty good Japanese after living there for 5 years and going there numerous times on business, and I have traveled all over the country.

The painting of the sailors on the beach on December 14 could very well be the beach in your photos. Angle is even right in the painting comparing the angle of the ship in the photos to the beach in front of the bow. Note the anchor chain in the painting of the Oryoku Maru. Also, in background I’m assuming is the destroyer MOMO also under attack. Drawing of the deck gun in action is at Olongapo on the 15th. Bottom painting shows it assisting in the rescue of another ship, the Fuji Maru earlier in the war.

This website says about December 14 (or click here)

https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2003/winter/hell-ships-1.html
“….The POWs endured seventeen such attacks before sunset. Only Oryoku Maru remained afloat. All other craft were sunk or departed…..”

Do you know if any wreck has ever been identified with the attack around Sueste Point that might be from the battle that day? I’m certain the MOMO and sub chaser #60 escaped, so this would be some smaller ship.

Thanks,
John

Here is just one sample image, a painting, from the Japanese blogger! There are more, however the text is in Japanese.

Zo829. This picture came from the Japanese Blog of Mr. Yasuhiro Fukushima. This shows a Japanese boat from the Oryoku Maru on the beach, under Sueste Point, at the entrance to Subic Bay on the 14th of Dec. 1944. Look at the full text from John Duresky and for the Blog URL above.

Now here are just a few short paragraphs (about the Oryoku Maru) from the NARA webpage about: “American POWs on Japanese Ships Take a Voyage into Hell, Part 1”.

During a lull in Allied air attacks, the Japanese ordered American medical officers at Bilibid Prison to examine and prepare a list of all prisoners who could depart with the last of the POW transports. On the morning of December 12, the roll was read. That evening the departees bade farewell to friends and packed what little remained of their belongings. They were awakened at 4 a.m. the following morning, fed a bit of breakfast, and then all 1,619 POWs marched to Manila’s Pier 7. Awaiting them was the Oryoku Maru, its name dimly visible through battleship-gray paint. No Red Cross or other markings were apparent to distinguish her from any other combat craft. The ship bristled with antiaircraft guns.

Oryoku Maru’s cargo included the “4th Medium Mortar Battalion, consisting of 23 officers and 535 non-commissioned officers and troops, 1350 cases of unit baggage, 12 artillery pieces, 2430 cases of ammunition . . . 14 cases of gasoline, four trucks,” and many more reinforcements and supplies. An intercept of December 13 announced, “Oryoku Maru is part of convoy with 2054 troops aboard.” The ship was to be loaded and ready to sail with the MATA-37 convoy on December 14. On that date, the Brazil Maru and Enoura Maru prepared to sail from Takao to Manila.

Huddled together, seeking emotional refuge from the “terrific explosions and concussions,” according to Jacobs, the prisoners “were shaken about like a dog shakes a rat.” They “were covered with rust chips and bomb dust.” Between raids, they tended the wounded with what scanty supplies were left. Some tried to eat the now dirty rice but found they had lost their appetites. From the depths of this inferno came the voice of Father Duffy praying, “Forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Above the holds, gun crews stood and died at their guns. Their blood trickled over the deck and into the holds. New crews replaced the fallen, just as the next flight dived and strafed the decks. The spray of bullets was quickly succeeded by the detonations of bombs that “bounced” the ship about “like a cork in a tub.” In futile defiance, the Japanese gun crew officer shook his spear at the onrushing planes.

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