Japanese cargo ship Junyo Maru
Courtesy of Vancouver archives CVA 447-2345. Photograph by Walter E Frostt
Second World War
The Sinking of Prisoner of War Transport Ships in the Far East
Between 12 and 18 September 1944, Allied forces sank three Japanese steamships that were carrying supplies to support the Japanese war effort. But unknown to the Allies at the time, these ships were also carrying Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and Javanese slave labourers (romushas). The Allies sank other POW transport ships during September 1944, but the sinking of the Kachidoki Maru and the Rakuyo Maru on 12 September led to the first eyewitness accounts being given by former POWs to Allied administrations about conditions in camps on the Thailand-Burma railway, whilst the sinking of the Junyo Maru on 18 September was one of the deadliest maritime disasters of the Second World War. The two sinkings, only six days apart, resulted in the deaths of over 7,000 men.
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