Hudsons sinking Japanese ship in Malaya before Pearl Harbor

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by daveT, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. daveT

    daveT Member

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    I read that Following Japanese attacks on Malaya, Hudsons from No. 1 Squadron RAAF became the first aircraft to make an attack in the Pacific War, sinking a Japanese transport ship, the Awazisan Maru, off Kota Bharu, an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor.If this occurred 1 hour before the Pearl Harbor attack it would have been 0118 local time, an extraordinary night operation.
    Did this really happen?
     
  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    According to Chris Shores it did... Bloody Shambles. Volume I.
     
  3. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Yes.
    In addition, all three Japanese transports were seriously hit, and the (transport) fleet's command ship was set on fire.
    The naval commander wanted to call off the landing of the following waves, but was overruled by the General commanding
     
  4. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    From company history of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines -

    "Awajisan-maru was built at the Tama Shipyard in Okayama Prefecture on July 15, 1939 with aid of governmental fund.
    This ship was in service on a route betwenn Yokohama and New York City as a high-speed cargo ship of Mitsui&Co to be commandeered by the army as a transport ship between Japan and Taiwan in July 1941. It was only two years after her launching.

    On 23rd of October 1941, she, together with other twenty ships, was given mission to transport the 18th Army Infantry Division Detachment aboard from Taiwan to Phu Quoc Island in Gulf of Thailand. They arrived at the southern area of the island on 7th December 1941. From there, separated into four groups, they farther headed for Kota Bharu, Shingora, Padani and Tape. Kota Bharu was regarded as the most dangerous destination where Awajisan-maru headed with Ayato-maru and Sakura-maru escorted by Destroyer Ayanami.

    At 23:55, they arrived at Kota Bharu and the detachment aboard began to land.
    At 05:00 in the midst of landing work, 3 British Lockheed Hudson EB-14Bs flew in to drop 60KG bombs to hit and fire the 2nd hatch of Awajisan-maru.
    That ignited the fuel drums and ammunitions piled up on the deck to a large fire.
    Fire spreaded to the bridge and 3rd hatch. All ship function halted but enemy's attack continued.

    Order of "All Leave the Ship!" was issued but there were many wounded crew on the mid-deck. Also, for fear of coming explosion, those landing boats which Awajisan-maru discharged ealier could not approach to the ship to rescue. Using equipped lifeboats or jumping into the water, they managed to escape by themselves.

    At 07:00, the ship was abandoned.
    On 12th December, Awajisan-maru was sunk by Dutch submarine K-12."
     
  5. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    At least the RAAF were quick off the mark.
     
  6. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Ship took 5 days to sink and that only after hit by a torpedo! Shores says it burned for days apparently making it an easy navigation aid in bad weaher.
     
  7. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I think these were British, rather than Australian. (unless that was a typo)
    Makes you wonder how the landings at Singora would have gone had the RAF had struck there in the early hours of Dec 8.
    (The landings at Kota Bharu were an hour or two before those at Singora IIRC)
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    No.1 squadron RAAF Hudsons made these first strikes. Quite well known here, obviously not to the rest of the world?
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, they were RAAF Hudsons. However, Davis (CO of 1 Sqn) obtained approval from AHQFE in Singapore before the sortie so it seems, in this instance, both the RAAF and RAF were on the ball. :D
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That's really interesting.
     
  11. daveT

    daveT Member

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    The following extracts are from that excellent book "The RAAF Hudson Story, Vol 1" by David Vincent.

    'Wing Commander Davis, who was relieving Wing Commander C. H. Noble in the operations room at the time the first message was received (that of engine sounds coming from the ocean off Kota Bharu at 2230 hours [local Malay time] on 7th December), decided that the small craft warranted investigation and was granted permission by AHQ to photograph them using a reconnaissance flare. FO Doug Howie, Orderly Officer of the Day, was told by Davis to awaken one of the Hudson captains and tell him to report to Operations. Just as Howie reached the accommodation block machine-gun firing was heard, evidently from pill-boxes on the coast about one and a half miles from the airfield, manned by Brigadier B.W. Key's 3/17th Dogras. It was, by then, about 12.30am, 8th December, local time in Malaya.'

    'The first crew approached by Davis after approval for No.1 Suqadron to attack was that of Flt. Lt. Lockwood, waiting by their aircraft. Sgt Bob Thomson, the crew's turrent gunner and soon to be the first member of the RAAF to fire in anger at the Japanese, recalled that there was little need for further explanation. "Away you go" Thomson remembered Davis telling them. "It's on, it's official". Davis was sending off crews individually to attack the enemy shipping as best they could. Although it was a moonlight night, the Japanses vessels, which were close to shore, were protected by a low cloud base.
    Lockwood took-off in A16-21 at 0208 hours 8th December. Climbing to 2,000 thousand feet he located the convoy and in a hair-raising purposeful dive to fifty feet put the northernmost vessel in his sights. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire he scored two direct hits amidships on his target. Further out to sea other ships could be seen, and there were several barges plying between the transports and the beach.'

    PS: In all No.1 Squadron flew 28 sortie's on the 8th December against the Japanese landing. John Lockwood and his crew perished on 14 February, 1942, when he was shot down whilst attacking the shipping off Sumatra.
     
  12. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Wish we knew what code letters were worn by A16-21. It would make a great (and unusual) model.
     
  13. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Andy (Wildcat) will know I reckon! :)

    Interesting read guys, hadn't heard this before.
     
  14. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Actually I don't. See what happens when you talk me up! :lol: I can second DaveT and also highly recommened the RAAF Hudson books by David Vincent, both books chock full of great info and pictures.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Apologies for the error. :oops:


    Do you know if this was an experienced RAAF squadron (from the Med) or was this the unit's first combat?
     
  16. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    It was the units first combat. 1 sqn deployed to Sembawang in July 1940 direct from Australia.
     
  17. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Do you know how long they were they trained for, and was it in Australia?
    Did they have special training in anti-ship or night Ops?

    Thanks for the info!
     
  18. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    So, I learned something new today, or is that old? Anyway, it's something I did not know. Excellent!
     
  19. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    As is often the case we in the US tend to ignore or under estimate the contributions of our Allies, especially in WWII and more especially in the Pacific. After all our Navy would not have very much to "crow" about if not for the Pacific War.
     
  20. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    #20 Shinpachi, Feb 13, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
    Excerpts from "History of Army 56th Infantry Regiment".

    <Excerpts>

    IJA 56th Infantry Regiment

    Landing Operation of Kota Bharu

    Boarding Detail
    1. Awajisan-maru
    Headquarters of Kota Bharu Landing Detachment, 56th Infantry Regimental 1st Battalion with 5th Company, Artillery Regiment and Engineer Detachment. Totally 1,653 personnels.

    2. Ayatosan-maru
    56th Infantry Regimental Headquarters, 3rd Battalion, Regimental Rapid-fire Artillery Squadron, Engineer Detachment. Totally 1,700.

    3. Sakura-maru
    56th Infantry Regimental 2nd Battalion and Engineer Detachment. Totally 2,100.

    In addition to above, as a part of 14th Independent Engineer Regiment, 402 personnels boarded 3 ships separately.

    ......................

    After 04:00 on December 8, 2 Lockheed Hudson bomber reconnaissance aircrafts attacked these 3 cargo ships.
    One of the bombs hit near the 2nd bow hatch of Awajisan-maru to explode.
    Gasoline drum cans stacked near the hatch were ignited. Front deck became a sea of ​​fire in a moment.

    A bomb dropped near the portside of another ship Ayatosan-maru became a close hit.
    2 lifeboats and steel wire rope of a derrick boom for 4th hold were destroyed.
    It had made it impossible for her to lift cargos from the hold. After 10 minutes, she received additional hits from 2 bombers at near the hatch-coaming of 5th and 6th holds in rear deck.

    At 18:30 on 8th December, the convoy decided to leave the burning Awajisan-maru and to evacuate once to Pattani in Thailand which was located about 150km north of Kota Bharu.

    Even during this evacuation, they received intermittent attacks from the Lockheed Hudsons.
    Ayatosan-maru received 2 direct hits while Sakura-maru also received 2 direct hits of small bomb.

    Past 00:00 on 9th December, after repair, they weighed anchor and headed to the coast of Kota Bharu again.

    Past 07:00, they arrived in Kota Bharu coast.
    Collected those abandoned boats scattering around the beach, they began to unload cargos.

    Landing Operation of Kota Bharu was ostensibly supposed to be ended successfully at the time of 9th December but actual loss was as enormous as 1 best merchant ship, 25 landing boats which occupied more than half they had and as many as 1,100 casualties unexpectedly.

    Burned-out hull of Awajisan-maru was left as it was but sunk by torpedo of a Dutch submarine which came into Kota Bharu lurking offshore on 12th December. Awajisan-maru became the first merchant ship lost in the Pacific War.
     
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