On September 6th
1944, 2100 Australian and British Prisoners of War were on board the “Rakuyo
Maru” which was part of a Japanese convoy leaving the Straits Settlement for
the Japanese mainland.
Around 5.00 a.m. on the morning of the 12th September the “Rakuyo Maru” was torpedoed by the U.S submarine “Sealion” Two torpedoes hit the ship but it took 12 hours for the ship to sink giving the surviving prisoners of war time time to leave the ship.
As enemy escorts rescued the Japanese crews, they held the POW's away from the boats, (by armed force) leaving them alone in the sea. Returning from chasing the remainder of the convoy, on the 15th, the “Pampanito” spotted a raft with survivors and began picking them up. Sending word to the nearby “Sealion” they pulled 127 men from the sea. Unable to carry more, they radioed to ComSubPac who ordered “Barb” and “Queenfish” to the area to assist. These two arrived on the 17th and they rescued an additional 32 survivors before having to depart due to bad weather. 159 total survivors were rescued but 6 passed away onboard.
The Japanese later rescued some of the prisoners
of war and they were taken on to camps in
A total of 1159 Australian and British prisoners of war lost their lives in this incident.
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