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Photo # 041008_2160
A brief account of the final voyage of the Hellship, Oryoku Maru and the fate of her 1,619 POW HUMAN cargo.
Photo # Oryoku_Maru_Ueda
The Oryoku Maru in war time colors. Painted by artist, Mr. Kihachiro Ueda, a soldier with the Japanese Army assigned to merchant ships as an anti-aircraft gunner. He was severely wounded during the bombing of the Kinka Maru in Manila harbor on November 14, 1944. Loosing the use of his right hand, he learnt to paint with his left. As a heartfelt gesture of reconciliation between former enemies, Mr. Kihachiro Ueda kindly donated the above original painting to the Subic Bay Historical Centre (located on the Subic Bay Freeport Zone) for display at the HELLSHIPS exhibit. Please click here - Mr. Kihachiro Ueda to view his photograph and the letter, which accompanied his generous gift.
The convoy accompanying the unmarked POW transport, Oryoku Maru, originally departed Manila Harbor’s Pier 7 on December 13th and was attempting to transport 1,619 American and Allied POWs to Japan. After lying at anchor off Corregidor Island that night, the Oryoku Maru departed Manila Bay on the 14th and while steaming north towards Subic Bay, along the Bataan Peninsula’s South China Sea coast, was detected by F6F Hellcat fighter-bombers (Air Group 11) from the USS Hornet ( CV 12 – an Essex Class aircraft carrier assigned with Task Force 58 and Flagship of Admiral J.J. “Jocko” Clark.). Repeatedly bombed and damaged by the Hornet’s planes, the Oryoku Maru limped into Subic Bay and unloaded her wounded and surviving Japanese military and civilian passengers that night, near what is now Subic City, at the northern end of Subic Bay. On the morning of the 15th, with Allied POWs still imprisoned within the hulls, the ship was making slow progress towards the Japanese Naval repair station at Olongapo on the south side of the Bay, when once again it was attacked by aircraft from the USS Hornet. A direct hit on the aft hull, resulted in the immediate deaths of over 250 POWs. The ship caught fire and began to sink.
Photo # Oryoku-Maru-aerial
Approximately 11A.M., December 15, 1944. In this reconnaissance photograph taken from a Hellcat fighter from the USS Hornet, clearly visible are the splashes (left of the burning ship) created by surviving POW's swimming ashore from the burning A. Oryoko Maru. B. marks the location of the infamous Tennis Court on which the POW's were held captive for six days. C. The present site of the Hellships Memorial.
Only then were the surviving POWs permitted to abandon ship, and while under gun fire, forced to swim to nearby Alava beach. After being tightly packed together on a former tennis court with little food or water for six days, the prisoners were trucked to San Fernando (Pampanga) railway station. From there they were transported north to San Fernando (La Union), where they were once again crammed into two more unmarked POW Hellships, the Brazil Maru and the Enoura Maru. The former was bombed and sunk (again by aircraft from the USS Hornet) a few days later, after reaching Takeo Harbor in Formosa with the loss of over 500 additional POW lives. After a grueling voyage, the Enoura Maru eventually reached Moji, Japan on January 29th 1945. Of the original 1,619 POWs who left Manila the month before, only about 490 remained alive.
Photo # 041008_2495
Former POW’s (Prisoners of War)
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Retired USAF Vietnam Veteran, Major Spike Nasmyth, with wife Lucile, daughter Maebelline and pet dog, Kiekie at home on the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (the former US Naval Base), Zambales, Philippines. Spike is a highly decorated, former F4 Phantom fighter-bomber pilot, who was shot down September 4th 1966, just north of Hanoi, during the Vietnam War. He subsequently spent 2,355 days as a POW (Prisoner Of War) of the North Vietnamese in the notoriously named “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp. An active pilot, Spike is also author of several books: the riveting “2355 Days”, which details his experience as a POW; the very entertaining “So You Want To Be A Ferry Pilot” and “The Boys Who Bring in The Crop”. Spike is currently working on his fourth novel, “Reunion”, a reflective and often amusing recounting of his and his fellow POW’s experiences as “guests” of the North Vietnamese. All books may be purchased directly, by emailing Spike at : firstname.lastname@example.org .
Spike Nasmyth is a leading member of a team presently engaged in the search for missing WWII US Army Air Force pilot, 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr. (17th Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group Philippines). On February 9th 1942, 2nd Lt. Stone’s P40E “Warhawk” fighter plane was lost over the Cogon Tarak Ridge area of Mt. Mariveles volcano, during an aerial engagement with a Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 fighter (designated the “Nate” by the U.S. military or “Army Type 97” fighter, as it was known to the Japanese military). piloted by Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa (50th Senti of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force), The aerial battle engagement also resulted in the loss of Sgt. Kurosawa and his aircraft.
In early 2007, the crash site of the Japanese aircraft was rediscovered. On February 9th 2008 (the 66th anniversary of the aerial battle), partial remains of what are believed to be those of Sgt. Kurosawa were recovered. (Please see “NEW IMAGES” February 2008, on this website for a full report).
Earlier this month (April 2008), the surviving younger brother and sister of Sgt. Kurosawa were successfully located in Japan. Please see “NEW IMAGES” May 2008, on this website for a report on the latest developments.